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Dr. Alexander Rohrmann

foto arohrmann

Department of Earth Sciences

Institute of Geological Sciences

Tectonics and Sedimentary Systems


Malteserstr. 74-100
Room B 102
12249 Berlin


present -

Okt. 2019

Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Department of Geological Sciences

  • Interactions between climate, erosion, and sediment transport (terrestrial to marine)
  • Field study area is Sumatra, Indonesia

Sept. 2019 -

Feb. 2018

Universität Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften,

  • Investigation of biosphere, climate, paleohydrology, and Asian Monsoons
  • Field studies near Xining, China

Feb. 2018 -

Feb. 2016

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

  • Interactions between climate, erosion, hydrology, and fluvial processes
  • Field study area is Eastern Tibet, China

Jan. 2016 -

Jul. 2015

Universität Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften

  • Investigation of biosphere, climate, paleohydrology, and tectonics
  • Field studies near Salta, Argentina



Jun. 2015

Universität Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Dr. rerum naturalium, Geology

  • Dissertation title: The Role of Wind and Water in Shaping Earth’s Plateaus
  • Advisor: Prof. Manfred Strecker
  • Area of Study: Biogeochemistry, hydrology, stable isotopes, tectonics

May 2009

University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

M.Sc., Geology

  • Thesis title: Minimal Erosion in Central Tibet since the Eocene and Implications for Plateau Development
  • Advisor: Prof. Paul Kapp
  • Area of Study: Surface processes, thermochronolgy, tectonics

Awards and fellowships

  • Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship – for highly qualified scientists and scholars from Germany, who just embark on their academic careers, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. 

  • American Geophysical Union Outstanding Student Paper Award, Earth and Planetary Surface Processes, for Stream-water stable isotopes, moisture fluxes, complex topography and isotopic fractionation along the South Central Andes, Fall Meeting, 2012.

  • Bernd Rendel Price – highest German award for young professional geoscientists, German Science Foundation. 

  • Cover story of May’s GSA Today edition: Wind erosion in the Qaidam basin, central Asia: Implication for tectonic, paleoclimate, and the source of the Loess Plateau. 

  • Recipient of the first Farouk El-Baz Research Award – for outstanding research in arid environments and to encourage and promote desert research, Geological Society of America.

Lectures and field trips, Freie Universität Berlin

term SS 2020, WS 2023 Introduction to spatial data analysis with Matlab and ArcGIS  
term SS 2021, 2022, 2023 GP1: Introductory field course: Harz Mountains
term SS 2021, 2022 GP3: Sedimentary field course: North Hesse
term WS 2021 Tectonics Sedimentary Basins
term WS 2020 Introduction to Earth Science (Erde I)

Lectures and field trips, Universität Potsdam

term WS 2018 Geodynamics, Climate & Biodiversity
term SS 2012 Introduction to Structural Geology, Field Trip: Rhinegraben, Jura and Swiss Alps
term WS 2011/12 "A systems approach to Earth Science” for Master students in Geogovernance, in collaboration with the Department of Political Sciences, Universität Potsdam
term SS 2011

Introductory structural mapping in southern France

Introduction to Structural Geology, Field Trip: Rhinegraben, Jura and Swiss Alps

term WS 2010/11 Geoscience Seminar II: “Climate, Tectonics and Sedimentology"
term SS 2010  Introductory structural mapping in southern France
term WS 2009/10 Advanced structural mapping in the Pyrenees, Spain

Lectures, Oregon State University

term WS 2016/17 Guest lecturer in “Tectonic Geomorphology”   

Teaching assistant, University of Arizona

term fall 2008 Introduction to Stratigraphy and Sedimentology    

Lipid Biomarkers | Tectonics | Geochronology | Stable Isotopes | Surface Processes | Terrestrial Sedimentology | Tectonic Geomorphology

Integrated evolution of surface processes, rivers and lakes, tectonic, and climate. Landscape, vegetation and hydrologic change in response to tectonic or climate induced processes. Biogeochemistry and stable isotopes. Satellite data.

My interest focuses on the complex feedbacks between tectonic, surface and climate processes. I take a field-based approach that entails geological mapping, structural and basin analysis, geochemistry combined with thermochronology, and cosmogenic nuclide dating to solve different aspects of spatiotemporal patterns of surface processes, vegetation and their tectonic and/or climatic forcing mechanisms.

Aims of my research efforts to date include: (1) present and past transport of sediment, pollutants, nutrients and organic carbon from the continent to oceanic sinks and its response to short and long-term events, (2) quantifying the dynamic relationships between tectonics and climate with respect to the development of mountain belts, plateaus and biodiversity, (3) deciphering process rates at a variety of time scales to better understand the discrepancies between long-term (i.e., geological) and short-term process rates of deformation, erosion and hydrology, (4) understanding the effect of drainage basin fluctuations on the evolution of fluvial networks, (5) determine the rates of wind erosion processes and deflation, (6) the tectonic and climate evolution of Asia and South America.

Most recently, I investigate the onset of early monsoonal conditions in East Asia and related eco-hydrological changes during the Eocene-Oligocene transition in central Asia. At the moment I investigate the response of the Tropics (Sumatra) over the Holocene to surface process changes and transport of organic material to the deep sea. In the future I hope to investigate more deeply terrestrial archives that hold valuable information of past tectonic activity, and its forcing of climatic and paleohydrologic conditions.


Analytical skills

Check out my newly established biomarker lab at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Compound-specific stable Leaf wax n-alkanes ∂D and ∂13C isotope analysis isotope analysis
Water stable isotope analysis ∂D and ∂18O of meteoric water
(U-Th)/He low temperature Apatite and Zircon (U-Th)/He dating thermochronology
Tectonics Tectonic and structural analysis
Quantification of erosion In-situ and meteoric cosmogenic nuclides (10Be)
Geospatial and satellite data Geographic information systems (GIS) and Mathlab
Geomorphologic analysis Quantification of river networks (Topotoolbox)
Computing MATLAB; ARC and GRASSGIS; TOPOTOOLBOX, pyBadlands. Model coupling, including GIS interfaces.  Familiarity with a wide swath of surface-process modeling software and general-purpose open-source software.
Fieldgeology Topographic mapping:streamcross-sections, profiles, and terraces. Structural and stratigraphic geologic mapping and hand sample identification. Familiarity with geomorphic, stratigraphic, and structural field methods in a variety of environments.
Chemistry Isotope-ratio mass spectrometry, gas chromatography and wet chemistry analytics.

Peer-reviewed papers:


Pingel, H., Alonso, R.N., Bookhagen, B., Cottle, J., Mulch, A., Rohrmann, A., Strecker, M.R. (in press). Miocene surface uplift and orogenic evolution of the southern Andean Plateau (central Puna), northwestern Argentina. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rohrmann, A., Kirby, E. and Schwanghart, W., (2023). Accelerated Miocene incision along the Yangtze River driven by headward drainage basin expansion. Science Advances, 9(36), p.eadh1636. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adh1636

Meijer, N., Dupont‐Nivet, G., Licht, A., Roperch, P., Rohrmann, A., Sun, A., Lu, S., Woutersen, A. and Nowaczyk, N., (2023). Early Eocene magnetostratigraphy and tectonic evolution of the Xining Basin, NE Tibet. Basin Research, 35(2), pp.510-529. https://doi.org/10.1111/bre.12720


Gemignani, L., Mittelbach, B.V., Simon, D., Rohrmann, A., Grund, M.U., Bernhardt, A., Hippe, K., Giese, J. and Handy, M.R., 2022. Response of drainage pattern and basin evolution to tectonic and climatic changes along the dinarides-hellenides orogen. Frontiers in Earth Science, 10, p.821707. https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2022.821707

Tian, Y., Zhuang, G., Nie, J., Xu, Q., Xing, Y., Zuza, A., Saylor, J., Leary, R. and Rohrmann, A., (2022). Introduction to the special issue “Tibetan tectonics and its effect on the long‐term evolution of climate, vegetation and environment”. Terra Nova, 34(4), pp.265-270. https://doi.org/10.1111/ter.12588

Kaya, M.Y., Dupont-Nivet, G., Frieling, J., Fioroni, C., Rohrmann, A., Altıner, S.Ö., Vardar, E., Tanyaş, H., Mamtimin, M. and Zhaojie, G., (2022). The Eurasian epicontinental sea was an important carbon sink during the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum. Communications Earth & Environment, 3(1), p.124. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00451-4[MOU1] 


Meijer, N., Dupont-Nivet, G., Barbolini, N., Woutersen, A., Rohrmann, A., Zhang, Y., Liu, X.J., Licht, A., Abels, H.A., Hoorn, C., Tjallingii, R., Andermann, C., Dietze, M., Nowaczyk, N., (2021): Loess-Like Dust Appearance at 40 Ma in Central China, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 36. DOI: 10.1029/2020PA003993


Barbolini, N., Woutersen, A., Silvestro, D., Tardif, D., Coster, P.M.., Meijer, N., Chang, C., Zhang, H.-X., Licht, A., Rydin, C., Koutsodendris, A., Han, F., Rohrmann, A., Liu, X.-J., Zhang, Y., Donnadieu, Y., Fluteau, F., Ladant, J.-B., Le Hir, G., Hoorn, C., (2020): Cenozoic evolution of the steppe-desert biome in Central Asia, Science Advances, 6, 1–17. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb8227 

Pingel, H., Strecker, M.R., Mulch, A., Alonso, R.N., Cottle, J., Rohrmann, A., (2020): Late Cenozoic topographic evolution of the Eastern Cordillera and Puna Plateau margin in the southern Central Andes (NW Argentina), Earth and Planetary Science Letter, 535. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116112


Rohrmann, A.,Sachse, D., Mulch, A., Pingel, H., Tofelde, S., Alonso, R.N., Strecker, M.R., (2016): Miocene rapid hydrological response to orographic barrier and central Andean Plateau uplift, Nature Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep35678

Nieto-Moreno, V., Rohrmann, A.,Van der Meer, M.T.J., Simninghe Damste, J.S., Sachse, D., Tofelde, S., Niedermeyer, E., Strecker, M.R., Mulch, A. (2016): Elevation-dependent changes in n-alkanes δD and soil GDGTs across the South Central Andes, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 453, 234-242. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.07.049

Pingel, H., Mulch, A., Alonso, R., Cottle, J., Hynek, S., Poletti, J., Rohrmann, A.,Schmitt, A.K., Stockli, D., Strecker, M.R. (2016): Surface uplift and convective rainfall along the southern Central Andes (Angastaco Basin, NW Argentina), Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 440, 33-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.009


Rohrmann, A.,Strecker, M.R., Bookhagen, B., Mulch, A.; Sachse, D.; Pingel, H., Alonso, R.N., Schildgen, T.F., Montero, C. (2014): Can stable isotopes ride out the storms? The role of convection for water isotope in models, records, and paleoaltimetry studies in the central Andes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 407, 187-195. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.09.021

Pingel, H., Alonso, R.N., Mulch, A., Rohrmann, A.,Sudo, M., Strecker, M.R. (2014): Pliocene orographic barrier uplift in the southern Central Andes. Geology, 42(8), 691-694. DOI: 10.1130/G35538.1


Rohrmann, A.,Heermance, R., Kapp, P., McCalister,  A., Fulong, C. (2013): Wind as the primary driver of erosion in the Qaidam Basin, China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 374, 1-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.03.011


Rohrmann, A.,Kapp, P., Carrapa, B., Reiners, P., Gyunn, J., Ding, L., Heizler, M. (2012): Thermochronologic evidence for Plateau formation in central Tibet by ~45 Ma, Geology, 40, 187-190. DOI: 10.1130/G32530.1


Kapp, P., Pelletier, J., Rohrmann, A.,Heermance, R., Russel, J. (2011): Speculations about the history of wind erosion in the Qaidam Basin and its implications for tectonics, paleoclimate, and the source of the Loess Plateau. GSA Today, 21, no. 4/5. DOI: 10.1130/GSATG99A.1



Rohrmann, A., Pingel, H., Alonso, R.N., Sachse D., Mulch, A., Cottle, J.M, ,Strecker, M.R., (to be submitted): Late Cenozoic uplift and hydrologic evolution of the central Puna Plateau in NW Argentina.

Rohrmann, A., Fischer, A., Hülscher, J., Bernhardt, A., (to be submitted): Last postglacial sea-level fluctuations control fluvial morphodynamics along the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Meijer, N., Licht, A., Woutersen, A., Hoorn, C., Robin-Champigneul, F., Rohrmann, A., Tagliavento, M., Brugger, J., Kelemen, F., Schauer, A., Hren, M., Sun, A., Fiebig, J., Mulch, A., Dupont-Nivet, G.: Extreme Eocene warmth drove proto-monsoons and desert greening far into the Asian interior

(in review Nature Geoscience).

Invited talks


Rohrmann, A. (2018), Ecohydrology and climate along plateau margins, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany


Rohrmann, A. (2017), Biomarker-based stable isotope paleoaltimetry elucidates topographic and hydrologic evolution of the Andean Puna Plateau, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan,China.

Rohrmann, A. (2017), Biomarker-based stable isotope paleoaltimetry elucidates topographic and hydrologic evolution of the Andean Puna Plateau, Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes, Xining,China.

Rohrmann, A. (2017), Climate and Tectonics of the southern Central Andes, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

Rohrmann, A. (2017), Climate and Tectonics of the southern Central Andes, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA.


Rohrmann, A. (2016), Climate and Tectonics of the southern Central Andes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston,MA,USA.

Rohrmann, A. (2016), Tectonic, Climate and Landscape Evolution in the Southern Central Andes, University of Connecticut, Mansfield, CT, USA.


Rohrmann, A. (2015), Can stable isotopes ride out the storms? Water isotope in models, records, and paleoaltimetry studies in the central Andes, German Research Center for Geoscience, Potsdam, Germany. 


Rohrmann, A. (2014), Wind as the primary driver of erosion in the Qaidam Basin, China,German Research Center for Geoscience, Potsdam, Germany.


Rohrmann, A. (2013), Water stable-isotopes and paleohydrology of the south-central Andes- Argentina, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA.

Rohrmann, A. (2013), Wind as the primary driver of erosion in the Qaidam Basin, China, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.