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Global River Classification (GloRiC)

The Global River Classification (GloRiC) provides river types and sub-classifications for all river reaches contained in the HydroRIVERS database. GloRiC has been developed by utilizing the river network delineation of HydroRIVERS combined with the hydro-enviromental characteristics from the HydroATLAS database and auxiliary information.

Version 1.0 of GloRiC provides a hydrologic, physio-climatic, and geomorphic sub-classification, as well as a combined river type for every river reach, resulting in a total of 127 river reach types. It also offers a k-means statistical clustering of the reaches into 30 groups. The dataset comprises 8.5 million river reaches with a total length of 35.9 million km.

Note that besides the global version of GloRiC, there is also a regional version for Canada available, GloRiC-Canada, which follows the same classification principles but with Canada-specific adaptations. GloRiC-Canada categorizes all river reaches of Canada into 23 types.

Map of global river classification. Line size represents the size of the river, whereas the river color represents the physio-climatic classification of that river reach.

Technical Documentation

For more information on GloRiC please refer to the GloRiC Technical Documentation.

For information on GloRiC-Canada, please refer to the GloRiC-Canada Technical Documentation.


The GloRiC database is freely available for scientific, educational and commercial use. The data are distributed under the same license agreement as the HydroSHEDS core products, which is included in the HydroSHEDS Technical Documentation. For all regulations regarding license grants, copyright, redistribution restrictions, required attributions, disclaimer of warranty, indemnification, liability, and waiver of damages, please refer to the license agreement.

By downloading and using the data the user agrees to the terms and conditions of this license.


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.

Ouellet Dallaire, C., Lehner, B., Creed, I. (2020): Multidisciplinary classification of Canadian river reaches to support the sustainable management of freshwater systems. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 77(2): 326–341.

Data download

The following GloRiC layers are available (click on the link to start downloading the zipped file):

Global GloRiC in geodatabaseformat (623MB).

Global GloRiC in shapefileformat (575MB).

GloRiC-Canada in geodatabaseformat (49MB).

GloRiC-Canada in shapefileformat (47MB).

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