Helmholtz-Zentrum Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum

Prof. Dr. Dirk Sachse

Prof. Dr. Dirk Sachse
Haus F, Raum 455 (Büro)
14473 Potsdam

Funktion und Aufgaben:

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

Wissenschaftliche Interessen:

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)

Werdegang / Ausbildung:

  • 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


Rain 4K Assessing paleohydrological changes through the Holocene in northeastern Africa (with Cecile Blanchet and PhD student Björn Hohmeier) [DFG funded]

WarmHydro Regional  paleohydrological change in the Levant during the termination of the penultimate glaciation (125 ka ago) (with Rik Tjallingi, Cecile Blanchet and PhD student Anais Urban) [DFG ICDP funded]

The carbon budget of anthropogenically altered river systems  Quantifying changes in carbon budget of European rivers during the common era (with Niels Hovius, Christian Siebert (UFZ) and Dietrich Borchardt (UFZ))

AIRWAVES -  Automated high resolution water sampling with the AIRWAVES sampler for environmental monitoring (initial funding through ERC Proof-of-concept grant until 2022) 

STEEPclim - Spatiotemporal evolution of the hydrological cycle throughout the European continent during past abrupt climate changes (initial funding through ERC consolidator grant STEEPclim until 2020)

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

Wissenschaftliche Gremien:

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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