Bernhard Lehner

Associate Professor
Bernhard Lehner
Contact Information

Burnside Hall Room 612

Email address: 
bernhard.lehner [at]
Research areas: 
Global hydrology
Hydrography of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands
Hydrology and GIS
Conservation hydrology

My main research theme is large-scale hydrology and hydrography. I analyze the terrestrial water cycle of large river basins, continents, or the entire globe and investigate the effects of climate and global environmental change on regional water resources and hydrologic regimes, including floods and droughts. A particular interest of mine is on blending hydrology with practical applications in freshwater biodiversity conservation, including environmental flow assessments, river habitat classifications, assessing the effects of dams on downstream flow conditions, and aquatic ecosystem services. Hydrological models, global data sets, as well as GIS & Remote Sensing techniques are main components of my research projects. In particular, I am contributing to the improvement and generation of high-quality datasets (e.g. river networks, basins, lakes, wetlands) to eliminate some of the most common restrictions for global hydrological modeling.

Current research: 
  • Creation of hydrographic baseline data at multiple scales, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands (HydroSHEDS, GRanD, GLWD, HydroLAKES, HydroATLAS, HydroWASTE, HydroFALLS)
  • Large-scale modeling of river flows to create indicators of dam impacts and water quality (Free-flowing rivers)
  • Assessments of aquatic ecosystem services and global freshwater biodiversity (BioFresh, Canadian Network for Aquatic Ecosystem Services, GloRiC)
  • PhD Geosciences, University of Frankfurt, Germany (2005)
  • MSc Hydrology, University of Freiburg, Germany (1999)
  • BSc Geography & Physics, University of Freiburg, Germany (1999)
  • Conservation Hydrologist, World Wildlife Fund US, Washington DC (2002-2006)
  • Research Fellow, University of Kassel, Germany (1999-2001)
Selected publications: 
  • Fluet-Chouinard, E., Stocker, B.D, Zhang, Z., Malhotra, A., Melton, J.R., Poulter, B., Kaplan, J.O., Klein Goldewijk, K., Siebert, S., Minayeva, T., Hugelius, G., Joosten, H., Barthelmes, A., Prigent, C., Aires, F., Hoyt, A.M., Davidson, N., Finlayson, C.M, Lehner, B., Jackson, R.B., McIntyre, P.B. (2023): Extensive global wetland loss over the past three centuries. Nature.
  • Messager, M.L., Lehner, B., Cockburn, C., Lamouroux, N., Pella, H., Snelder, T., Tockner, K., Trautmann, T., Watt, C., Datry, T. (2021). Global prevalence of non-perennial rivers and streams. Nature 594: 391-397.
  • Grill, G., Lehner, B., Thieme, M., Geenen, B., Tickner, D., Antonelli, F., Babu, S., Borrelli, P., Cheng, L., Crochetiere, H., Ehalt Macedo, H., Filgueiras, R., Goichot, M., Higgins, J., Hogan, Z., Lip, B., McClain, M., Meng, J., Mulligan, M., Nilsson, C., Olden, J., Opperman, J., Petry, P., Reidy Liermann, C., Saenz, L., Salinas-Rodríguez, S., Schelle, P., Schmitt, R.J.P., Snider, J., Tan, F., Tockner, K., Valdujo, P.H., van Soesbergen, A., Zarfl C. (2019): Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers. Nature 569: 215–221.
  • Ouellet Dallaire, C., Lehner, B., Sayre, R., Thieme, M. (2019): A multidisciplinary framework to derive global river reach classifications at high spatial resolution. Environmental Research Letters 14(2): 024003.
  • Messager, M.L., Lehner, B., Grill, G., Nedeva, I., Schmitt, O. (2016): Estimating the volume and age of water stored in global lakes using a geo-statistical approach. Nature Communications 7: 13603.
  •  Lehner, B., Grill G. (2013): Global river hydrography and network routing: baseline data and new approaches to study the world’s large river systems. Hydrological Processes, 27(15): 2171–2186.
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