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Ecological status of aquatic and riparian habitat in relation to hydropeaking in winter

Research project financed by Swedish centre for sustainable hydropower

The aim of the project is to provide information on the impact of hydropeaking on environmental effects such as ice dynamics and organism communities of boreal rivers.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2023-01-01 2027-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Ecology and Environmental Science

Research area


Project description

The aim of the project is to provide information on how hydropeaking affects ice dynamics and organism communities of boreal rivers. The project will also provide guidelines for which flow and water level conditions that are needed to ensure adequate survival for riparian vegetation and fish, both of which are measures of habitat quality in general. The results from our study will serve as a basis in the processes of relicensing the Swedish hydropower in accordance with modern environmental standards (i.e. the 2000 European Water Framework Directive).

The project answers the question how hydropeaking affects ice conditions, fish recruitment potential, shore erosion, and riparian vegetation. In the longer term, the project can provide a basis for studies of how ice conditions affect other groups of organisms, as well as alternative strategies to reduce erosion.


1.       Increased knowledge of variation in hydropeaking, from free-flowing streams to reservoirs with intensive hydropeaking, during winter along a climate gradient from northern to southern Sweden.

2.       Increased knowledge of ice conditions for a large number of watercourses, from unregulated to heavily regulated in terms of hydropeaking.

3.       A model of ice dynamics in relation to flow conditions for different climate scenarios.

4.       Increased knowledge of mortality and turnover in species composition of riparian vegetation subjected to different winter flow conditions, and with varying intensity of hydropeaking.

5.       Increased knowledge of fish egg survival in rivers with different winter flows and intensity of hydropeaking.

6.       A statistical model that describes which aspects of hydropeaking in combination with ice that have the greatest negative effect on fish recruitment potential and riparian vegetation, depending on intensity of hydropeaking and geographic location (latitudinal gradient).

7.       Increased knowledge of recommendations needed to run hydroelectric plants to reduce negative impacts on the ecosystem.

8.       To disseminate the project's results to stakeholders, decision makers and the public.

Latest update: 2023-03-01