Riverine heatwaves under climate change

Project lead

Manuela Brunner


Raul Wood

Project duration

2024 - 2030


Extremely high river water temperatures introduce thermal stress to aquatic species and reduce the thermal cooling efficiency of power plants, in particular if they persist over time. Despite the potentially severe impacts of such river heatwaves, there exists limited understanding of their occurrence, drivers, future changes, and impacts. The objective of this project is to fill this research gap and improve our understanding of riverine heatwaves in the Alps and Europe.

Specifically, it aims to (1) create a large-sample dataset of water temperature observations in Europe, (2) quantify the frequency and severity of riverine heatwaves across different hydro-climates, (3) identify climatic, hydrological, and human drivers of riverine heatwaves, (4) assess the impacts of climate change on riverine heatwaves, and (5) quantify the risks of riverine heatwaves for fish populations and energy production.