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Prof. Dr. Dirk Sachse

Group Leader
Prof. Dr. Dirk Sachse
Building F, Room 455 (Büro)
14473 Potsdam

Function and Responsibilities:

Senior Scientist  
Director Topic 5 Future Landscapes at GFZ
Professor for Organic Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface System at Humboldt University Berlin
Link to my publication record at  Google Scholar and my  Researcher ID

Research Interests:

My research is aimed at understanding the variability of biogeochemical cycles - in particular the carbon cycle - over different timescales (101 to 106  years), as the basis of life, human societies and ecosystems. 

In particluar I am interested in the mechansims and consequences of abrupt changes to the hydrological cycle, and the influence of surface processes (erosion, riverine transport, mass wasting) and tectonics (mountain range uplfit, earthquakes) on the short-term and long-term development of the carbon cycle.

I investigate, how natural and anthropogenic landscapes act as sinks, reactors and sources of carbon. I aim to understand and quantify how human activities  alter the Earth’s surface and in particular the carbon cycle. I develop concepts for a sustainable (carbon neutral or carbon negative) use of future landscapes.

I apply and develop organic geochemical methods and use molecular and isotopic information to detect changes in these cycles and quantify fluxes.


  • 2023 - today: Professor for Organic Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface System at Humboldt University Berlin
  • 2021 - today: Director Topic 5, Future Landscapes at GFZ
  • 2014 - today: Senior Scientist at GFZ Section 4.6 Geomorphology [tenured], Head of Organic Surface Geochemistry Lab 
  • 2009 - 2014:  Emmy-Noether Research Group Leader at University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany, Institute for Earth Sciences and Leibniz Center for Surface Process and Climate Studies  
  • 2007 - 2009:  Postdoc, Leibniz Center for Surface Process and Climate Studies at University of Potsdam, Germany
  • 2006 - 2007:  Postdoc, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  • 2005 - 2006:  Postdoc Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA  
  • 2005              Feodor-Lynen Research Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation to work with: Prof. Julian P. Sachs (MIT/ University of Washington) and Prof. Stjepko Golubic (Boston University)


  • 2005                PhD in Biogeochemistry, University of Jena
  • 2002 - 2005    PhD student, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 2002                Diploma in Geology, University of Jena, Germany
  • 1997 - 1998    Studies in Geology and spanish language, Universidad de Granada, Spain
  • 1995 - 2002    Studies in Geology, University of Jena, Germany


SECCO Chile - The coupled vegetation, weathering, erosion, and sediment-export response to climate change unravelled from novel proxies in Chilean marine sediment (funding through a DFG grant within the EarthShape SPP) - collaboration with H. Wittmann (GFZ) and A. Bernhardt (FU Berlin). I am responsible for reconstructing vegetation and hydrology from marine and on-shore sediments using lipid biomarker C and H isotope ratios. With jointly supervised PhD student Néstor Eduardo Gaviria Lugo at GFZ.

AIRWAVES - Building an Automated high resolution water sampler (AIRWAVES) for environmental monitoring (funding through ERC Proof-of-concept grant) 

STEEPclim - Spatiotemporal evolution of the hydrological cycle throughout the European continent during past abrupt climate changes (funding through ERC consolidator grant STEEPclim)

ROCcyle - The role of organic carbon in the global carbon cycle (funding includes Helmholtz association funding and through 2 PhD projects from the DFG-funded STRATEGY International Research Training Group

Research Boards and Committees:

Chair of the  INTIMATE (INtegrating Ice core, MArine and TErrestrial records) network (2019 - 2023)


2018 - ERC Proof-of-concept grant (European Research Council)
2015 - ERC Consolidator grant (European Research Council) 
2014 -   Isotope Prize of the Karleugen-Habfast-Foundation 
2009 - Emmy-Noether Excellence Grant of the DFG 
2005 - Alexander von Humboldt Posdoc fellowship 

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