HBV Light Model

A semi-distributed hydrologic model to simulate catchment runoff

What is HBV Light?

There are many different versions of the HBV Model software besides the orginal SMHI version developed by S. Bergström and others since 1976.

HBV Light, which in its previous version has been developed at Uppsala University (and further improved at Oregon State University, SLU-Uppsala and Stockholm University) by Jan Seibert, were programmed with the motivation to improve the user-friendliness, especially with regards to use it for education purposes. During the last years HBV light has been used successfully in several courses in Sweden, Germany, the USA, Switzerland and other countries. HBV Light corresponds in principle to the version described by Bergström (1992 and 1995) with only slight changes. In order to keep the software as simple as possible several functions available in the SMHI version have not been implemented into HBV light.The newest version of HBV light was reprogrammed in collaboration with M. Vis (2010) to migrate the software from the programming language VB6 to VB.NET (Seibert und Vis, 2012). 

The new HBV Light version includes the following innovations: 

  • Possibility to run the model for a catchment consisting of several subcatchments
  • Improved user interface

We are happy about comments on the functioning of the new model from testers. Please send your comments to Marc Vis.  


To get an overview over the functioning of hydrologic models in general and HBV in particular, a short introductory lecture can be downloaded here.

Software Download

To get started with HBV, the software needs to be downloaded and installed on your PC. Help files are included in the folder. (Please note: in case you previously installed a beta version, this needs to be uninstalled first)

Data Download

A catchment dataset is provided to test the HBV model or implement it for teaching purposes.


Before getting started with the exercises you need to download the HBV software and dataset (see above). Change the catchment which is simulated by HBV light using the menu-item File-Open and select the directory under which the appropriate data- and result-directories are located (e.g., hbvland). Then follow the instructions given in the exercises 1 to 7. Enjoy!

  1. Calibration (HBV-land)
  2. Calibration (Lookout Creek)
  3. Design flood (Vattholma)
  4. Landuse-change (Norrsjön)
  5. Parameter Uncertainty
  6. Snow-routine
  7. New interception routine


Bergström, S.: The HBV Model: Its Structure and Applications,Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Hydrology,Norrköping, 35 pp., 1992.

Bergström, S.: The HBV model (Chapter 13), in: Computer Models of Watershed Hydrology, edited by: Singh, V. P., Water Resources Publications, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, USA, 443–476, 1995.

Seibert, J. and Vis, M. (2012). Teaching hydrological modeling with a user-friendly catchment-runoff-model software package. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 16, 3315–3325, 2012 (link to journal).