Research Interests








Dr. Bernhard Lehner

Assistant Professor of Global Hydrology
Earth System Science Undergraduate Advisor
Director of the Geographic Information Center

Department of Geography
McGill University


Burnside Hall, Room 612
Department of Geography
McGill University,
805 Sherbrooke Street West,
Montreal, QC H3A 2K6
Telephone: (1)514.398.8794
Fax: (1)514.398.7437
Email: bernhard.lehner@mcgill.ca


Main Research Interests

Global hydrology – As a faculty member of the Department of Geography and the new Earth System Science program, my main research theme is large-scale hydrology. I study the terrestrial water cycle of large river basins, continents, or the entire globe and investigate the effects of climate and global change on regional water resources and hydrologic regimes, including floods and droughts. Hydrological models, global data sets, and GIS and remote sensing tools are typical components of my research projects.

Hydrology and GIS – As part of my research, I am contributing to the improvement and generation of high-quality data layers to eliminate some of the most common restrictions for global hydrological modeling. Key projects include the design and development of global river network maps, drainage direction schemes and watershed delineations (HydroSHEDS, DDM30) as well as global lakes, wetlands and reservoir databases (GLWD, GRanD) – see project descriptions below. The goal of these GIS projects is to generate basic data layers in support of regional and global hydrological modeling, watershed analyses, and freshwater conservation planning at a quality, resolution and extent that have previously been unachievable.

Conservation hydrology – Between 2002 and 2006 I have been a member of the Conservation Science Program of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington DC, and I am now an advising Science Fellow for them. My research projects focused on blending rigorous hydrology with practical applications in biodiversity conservation. I conducted analyses that spanned multiple scales (from local to global) and covered a broad variety of topics, including general hydrological modeling, regional water resources assessments, and studies on the possible effects of climate change, land cover change, and dam construction. Based on these experiences, I am interested in large-scale environmental flow assessments and integrated freshwater conservation.

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Current and past projects that I led or was involved in

HydroSHEDSHydrological data and maps based on Shuttle Elevation Derivatives at multiple Scales
HydroSHEDS is a new hydrographic mapping product that provides river and watershed information for regional and global-scale applications in a consistent format. It offers a suite of geo-referenced data sets (vector and raster) at various scales, including river networks, watershed boundaries, drainage directions, and flow accumulations. HydroSHEDS is based on high-resolution elevation data obtained during a Space Shuttle flight for NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).

GLWDGlobal Lakes and Wetlands Database
Drawing upon a variety of existing maps and inventories, a new Global Lakes and Wetlands Database (GLWD) has been created. The combination of best available sources for lakes and wetlands on a global scale (1:1 to 1:3 million resolution), and the application of GIS functionality enabled the generation of a database which focuses in three coordinated levels on (1) large lakes and reservoirs, (2) smaller water bodies, and (3) wetlands.

GRanDGlobal Reservoir and Dam Database
Coordinated by the Global Water System Project (GWSP) and based on a variety of existing data sets, maps and registers, a group of international researchers is currently compiling information on global reservoirs and dams. The final database will include georeferenced locations and attribute data for about the largest 6000 reservoirs worldwide. Data is scheduled for completion within 2008.

EuroWasserEstimating the effect of global change on European water resources and hydrology: enhancement and application of a global water model
The EuroWasser project (my PhD project at the University of Kassel, Germany) focused on the improvement of an existing global hydrological model and its application in Europe to assess the effects of climate and socio-economic change on water availability, water stress, hydropower generation, and the frequencies of floods and droughts. The applied WaterGAP model (Alcamo et al. 2003; Döll et al. 2003) is an integrated global water model, i.e. it combines both a physically based hydrological model with a socio-economically driven water use model, including industrial, household and agricultural water use scenarios.

DDM30Global Drainage Direction Map at 30 minute resolution
The global drainage direction map DDM30 is a raster map that describes the drainage directions of surface water with a spatial resolution of 30’ longitude by 30’ latitude. 66896 individual grid cells, covering the entire land surface of the globe (except Antarctica), are connected to each other by their respective drainage direction and are thus organized into drainage basins.

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Selected Publications

Lehner, B., Verdin, K., Jarvis, A. (2008): New global hydrograhy derived from spaceborne elevation data. Eos, Transactions, AGU, 89(10): 93-94.

Thieme, M., Lehner, B., Abell, R., Hamilton, S.K., Kellndorfer, J., Powell, G., Riveros, J.C. (2007): Freshwater conservation planning in data-poor areas: An example from a remote Amazonian basin (Madre de Dios River, Peru and Bolivia). Biological Conservation, 135: 500-517.

Abell, R., Allan, J.D., Lehner, B. (2007): Unlocking the potential of protected areas for freshwaters. Biological Conservation, 134: 48-63
Lehner, B., Verdin, K., Jarvis, A. (2006): Hydrological data and maps based on Shuttle elevation derivatives at multiple scales (HydroSHEDS) – Technical Documentation. World Wildlife Fund US, Washington, DC. 27pp. Available at http://hydrosheds.cr.usgs.gov.

Hamilton, S.K., Kellndorfer, J., Lehner, B., Tobler, M. (2006): Remote sensing of floodplain geomorphology as a surrogate for habitat diversity in a tropical river system (Madre de Dios, Peru). Geomorphology, 89(2007): 23-38.

Pittock, J., Lehner, B., Lifeng, L. (2006): River basin management to conserve wetlands and water resources. In: Bobbink, R., Beltman, B., Verhoeven, J.T.A., Wigham, D.F. (eds.): Wetlands: functioning, biodiversity conservation, and restoration. Chapter 8: 169-196, Springer-Verlag.

Lehner, B., Döll, P., Alcamo, J., Henrichs, T., Kaspar, F. (2006): Estimating the impact of global change on flood and drought risks in Europe: a continental, integrated analysis. Climatic Change, 75(3): 273-299.

Lehner, B. (2005): Climate change, human water use, and freshwater ecosystems in Africa: looking towards the future. In: Thieme, M.L., Abell, R.A., Stiassny, M.L.J., Skelton, P. H., Lehner, B., Teugels, G.G., Dinerstein, E., Kamdem-Toham, A., Burgess, N., Olson, D.M. (eds.): Freshwater ecoregions of Africa: a conservation assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Lehner, B., Czisch, G., Vassolo, S. (2005): The impact of global change on the hydropower potential of Europe: a model-based analysis. Energy Policy, 33(7): 839-855.

Lehner, B., Döll, P. (2004): Development and validation of a global database of lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. Journal of Hydrology 296(1-4): 1-22.

Abell, R., Thieme, M., Lehner, B. (2004). Ecoregion conservation for freshwater systems, with a focus on large rivers. In Welcomme, R., Petr, T. (eds.): Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Management of Large Rivers for Fisheries. Volume II. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. RAP Publication 2004/17, pp. 1-14.

Batima, P., Batnasan, N., Lehner, B. (2004): Freshwater systems of the Great Lakes Basin, Mongolia: Opportunities and challenges in the face of climate change. WWF Mongolia Programme Office, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Admon Printing, ISBN 99929-0-279-5, 95 pp.

Lehner, B.L. (2004): Estimating the effect of global change on European water resources and hydrology: enhancement and application of a global water model. PhD thesis (book and CD), University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 197 pp.

Alcamo, J., Döll, P., Henrichs, T., Kaspar, F., Lehner, B., Rösch, T., Siebert, S. (2003a): Development and testing of the WaterGAP 2 global model of water use and availability. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 48(3): 317–337.

Alcamo, J., Döll, P., Henrichs, T., Kaspar, F., Lehner, B., Rösch, T., Siebert, S. (2003b): Global estimates of water withdrawals and availability under current and future “business-as-usual” conditions. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 48(3): 339–349.

Döll, P., Kaspar, F., Lehner, B. (2003): A global hydrological model for deriving water availability indicators: model tuning and validation. Journal of Hydrology, 270: 105–134.

Döll, P., Lehner, B. (2002): Validation of a new global 30-min drainage direction map. Journal of Hydrology, 258: 214-231.

Henrichs, T., Lehner, B., Alcamo, J. (2002): An integrated analysis of changes in water stress in Europe. Integrated Assessment, 3 (1): 15-29.

Döll, P., Lehner, B., Kaspar, F. (2002): Global modeling of groundwater recharge. In Schmitz, G.H. (ed.): Proceedings of Third International Conference on Water Resources and the Environment Research, Technical University of Dresden, Germany, ISBN 3-934253-17-2, Vol. I: 27-31.

Lehner, B., Henrichs, T., Döll, P., Alcamo, J. (eds.) (2001): EuroWasser – Model-based assessment of European water resources and hydrology in the face of global change. Kassel World Water Series, Vol. 5, 124 pp. Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Germany.

Lehner, B., Döll, P., Kaspar, F. (2001): Vergleich von hydrologischen Modellen auf unterschiedlichen Skalenebenen am Beispiel Elbe und Oder. In: Sutmöller, J., Raschke, E. (eds.): Modellierung in meso- bis makroskaligen Flußeinzugsgebieten – Tagungsband zum gleichnamigen Workshop am 16./17. November 2000 in Lauenburg, GKSS Research Center, Geesthacht, GKSS 2001/15: 160-171.

Döll, P., Kaspar, F., Lehner, B. (2001): Calibration of a global hydrological model against measured discharge. In: Dolman, H., Pomeroy, J., Oki, T., Hall, A. (eds.): Soil–Vegetation–Atmosphere Transfer Schemes and Large-Scale Hydrological Models, IAHS Publication, 270: 143-149.

Lehner, B., Alcamo, J., Döll, P., Kaspar, F. (2000): Towards a global perspective on the risk of river floods. In: Toensmann, F., Koch M. (eds.): River Flood Defence. Int. Symposium on River Flood Defence, Kassel Reports of Hydraulic Engineering, No. 9/2000, Vol. 1: D-23 – D-32, Herkules Verlag.

Döll, P., Lehner, B., Kaspar, F. (2000): Global modeling of groundwater recharge and surface runoff. EcoRegio, 8: 73-80.

Demuth, S., Lehner, B., Stahl, K. (2000): Assessment of the Vulnerability of a River System to Drought. In: Vogt, J.V., Somma, F. (eds.): Drought and Drought Mitigation in Europe. Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research, Vol. 14: 209-219, Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Lehner, B. (1998): Automated Generation of a Topologic River Network System Within a GIS. In: Strobl, J., Dollinger, F. (eds): Angewandte Geographische Informationsverarbeitung. Beiträge zum AGITSymposium Salzburg 1998: 195-201, Wichmann Verlag, Heidelberg.

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Contact Information

Department of Geography

McGill University

805 Sherbrooke Street West

Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6

phone: (514) 398-4111 fax: (514) 398-7437

Undergraduate Email

Graduate Email

Last updated 21/02/2008