Dirk Scherler, Junior Professor in GFZ section Earth Surface Geochemistry, has been awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) endowed with ~1.5 million Euro. This grant shall finance the research project “Climate sensitivity of glacial landscape dynamics“ (COLD), in which Scherler aims to quantify how erosion rates in glacial landscapes vary with climate change and how such changes affect the dynamics of mountain glaciers.
The project will focus on the erosion of ice-free hillslopes, which are abundant in steep mountain ranges, like the European Alps or the Himalaya. Debris that is supplied from such hillslopes ends up covering glacier surfaces where it impedes ice melting. The response of debris-covered glaciers to climate changes therefore depends in part on how these hillslopes respond to climate change. However, quantifying erosion rates in these landscapes is challenging. With the ERC grant, Scherler wants to combine cosmogenic nuclide analysis, numerical modelling, and planetary-scale remote sensing to gauge the temperature-sensitivity of hillslope erosion in glacial landscapes.