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Prof. Dr. Dirk Scherler

Dirk Scherler

Department of Earth Sciences

Institute of Geological Sciences

Tectonics and Sedimentary Systems

Assistant Professor

Malteserstr. 74-100
12249 Berlin
Juliane Rohlmann

Academic Employment

since 12/2014  

Junior Professor (non-tenure track, fixed-term contract);

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany and Institute of Geological Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

08/2014 – 11/2014  

Postdoc, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Germany

08/2012 – 07/2014  

Postdoc, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, USA

12/2010 – 07/2012  

Postdoc, Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Potsdam, Germany


Academic Education

11/2010   PhD: Graduate School GK1364, Institute of Earth and Envrionmental Sciences, University of Potsdam, Germany.

Diploma: Geography Department, Humboldt University of Berlin
and Institute of Geological Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin,
Germany; minors in Geology, Politcs, and Macroeconomics.

Teaching Activities

  • Introduction to Matlab and ArcGIS (MSc)
  • Tectonic Geomorphology (MSc)
  • Field course GP1, Geology of the Harz Mts., 5 days (BSc)
  • 2017 The Pyrenees and their foreland, Field course, 11 days (together with A. Bernhardt)
  • 2017/2018 Tectonics of Sedimentary Basins (MSc), 50 hrs/term, Freie Universität Berlin (Main instructor)

Research Interests

I study the topographic evolution of the Earth’s surface, the processes that shape it, and how these processes change in space and time. Important topics include the interplay of climate, erosion, and tectonics and assessing the geomorphic impacts of
climate change. I’m furthermore interested in how glaciers respond to climate change and how they have shaped our planet over the Quaternary period, that is, the last two and a half million years. In my research, I typically combine fieldwork, laboratory
analysis, and computer models. My favorite tools are cosmogenic nuclides, which are rare isotopes produced by cosmic radiation in the uppermost meters of the Earth’s surface, and which allow quantifying rates and dates of surface processes.


  • 2016 - ongoing:   Testing biotic controls on erosion and sediment transport in the Chilean coastal cordillera with cosmogenic 10Be-derived erosion rates and a shear stress-based river incision model. Funded by German Science Foundaton (DFG) as part of the Priority Research Program (SPP)1805: Earthshape [€ 249,670].

  • 2016 - ongoing:   Quantifying the response of rapidly eroding landscapes to climate change with cosmogenic nuclides. Funded by German Science Foundaton (DFG) [€ 244,050].
  • 2018 - ongoing: Climate sensitivity of glacial landscape dynamics (COLD). Funded by European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 759639 [€ 1,499,308]

Field Experience

Colorado Plateau (2002, 2012), Western Australia (2006), Himalaya (2005, 2006, 2007,
2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016), Karakoram (2010, 2011, 2013), East African Rift (2008),
San Gabriel Mts. (2013, 2014), Yunnan, China (2015), South Africa (2015), Chile (2016), European Alps (2015, 2016).


Schwanghart, W., Scherler, D. (2017): Bumps in river profiles: uncertainty assessment and smoothing using quantile regression techniques. Earth Surface Dynamics, vol. 5, p. 821-839, doi:10.5194/esurf-5-821-2017.

Wang, W., Godard, V., Zeng, J.-L., Scherler, D., Xu, C., Zhang, J., Xie, K., Bellier, O., Ansberque, C., de Sigoyer, J., A.S.T.E.R. Team (2017): Perturbation of fluvial sediment fluxes following the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Earth Surfaces Processes and Landforms, vol. 42, p. 2611-2622, doi:10.1002/esp.4210.

Scherler, D., DiBiase, R.A., Fisher, G.B., Avouac, J.-P. (2017): Testing monsoonal controls on bedrock river incision in the Himalaya and Eastern Tibet with a stochastic-threshold stream power model. Journal of Geophysical Research Earth Surface, vol. 122, p. 1389-1429, doi:10.1002/2016JF004011. Editor's highlight.


Savi, S., Schildgen, T. F., Tofelde, S., Wittmann, H., Scherler, D., Mey, J., Alonso, R. N., Strecker, M. R. (2016): Climatic modulation of sedimentary processes and insights into late Quaternary landscape evolution: The Del Medio debris-flow fan, NW Argentina. Journal of Geophysical Research Earth Surface, vol. 121, p. 2424-2445, doi:10.1002/2016JF003912.

Dey, S., Thiede, R. C., Schildgen, T. F., Wittmann, H., Bookhagen, B., Scherler, D., Strecker, M.R. (2016): Holocene internal shortening within the northwest Sub-Himalaya: Out-of-sequence faulting of the Jwalamukhi Thrust, India. Tectonics, vol. 35, doi:10.1002/2015TC004002.

Mey, J., Scherler, D., Wickert, A.D., Egholm, D.L., Tesauro, M., Schildgen, T.F., Strecker, M.R.  (2016): Glacial isostatic uplift of the European Alps. Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms13382.

Ganti, V., von Hagke, C., Scherler, D., Lamb, M. P., Fischer, W. W., Avouac, J.-P. (2016), Time-dependent bias of erosion rates in glaciated landscapes linked to climate variability. Science  Advances, vol. 2, e1600204, doi:10.1126/sciadv.1600204

Dey, S., Thiede, R. C., Schildgen, T. F., Wittmann, H., Bookhagen, B., Scherler, D., Jain, V., Strecker, M. R. (2016): Climate-driven sediment aggradation and incision since the Late Pleistocene in the NW Himalaya, India. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol.449, p. 321-331, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2016.05.050

Schildgen, T.F., Robinson, R.A.J., Savi, S., Phillips, W.M., Spencer, J.Q.G., Bookhagen, B., Scherler, D., Tofelde, S., Alonso, R.N., Kubik, P.W., Binnie, S., Freeman, S.P.H.T., Strecker, M.R. (2016): Landscape response to late Pleistocene climate change in NW Argentina: Sediment flux and  cosmogenic landslide signatures modulated by basin geometry. Journal of Geophysical Research Earth Surface, vol. 121, p. 392-414, doi:10.1002/2015JF003607.

Scherler, D., Lamb, M.P., Rhodes, E.J., Avouac, J.-P. (2016), Climate-change versus landslide origin of fll terraces in an arid bedrock landscape: San Gabriel River, CA. Geological Society of America Bulletin , vol. 128(7-8), p. 1228-1248, doi:10.1130/B31356.1.

Eugster, P., Scherler, D., Thiede, R. C., Codilean, A. T., Strecker, M. R. (2016): Rapid Last Glacial Maximum deglaciation in the Indian Himalaya coeval with mid-latitude glaciers: New insights from 10Be dating of ice-polished bedrock surfaces in the Chandra Valley, NW Himalaya. Geophysical Research Letters , vol. 43, p. 1589-1597, doi:10.1002/2015GL066077.

Wulf, H., Bookhagen, B., Scherler, D. (2016): Differentiating between rain, snow, and glacier contributions to river discharge in the western Himalaya using remote-sensing data and distributed hydrological modeling. Advances in Water Resources , vol. 88, p.152-169, doi:10.1016/j.advwatres.2015.12.004 .


Scherler, D., Bookhagen, B., Wulf, H., Preusser, F., Strecker, M.R. (2015): Increased late Pleistocene erosion rates during fluvial aggradation in the Garhwal Himalaya, northern India.Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 428, p. 255-266, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.06.034.

Acosta, V.T., Schildgen, T.F., Clarke, B.A., Scherler, D., Bookhagen, B., Wittmann, H., von Blanckenburg, F., Strecker, M.R. (2015): The effect of vegetation cover on millennial-scale landscape denudation rates. Lithosphere, vol. 7, p. 408-420, doi:10.1130/L402.1.

Mey, J., Scherler, D., Strecker, M.R., Zeilinger, G. (2015): Estimating the fill thickness and bedrock topography in intermonate valleys using artficial neural networks. Journal of Geophysical Research Earth Surface , vol. 120(7), p. 1301-1320, doi:10.1002/2014JF003270.


Wang, P., Scherler, D., Liu-Zeng, J., Mey, J., Avouac, J.-P., Zhang, Y., Shi, D. (2014): Tectonic control of Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge revealed by a buried canyon in Southern Tibet. Science, vol. 356, p. 978-980, doi:10.1126/science.1259041.

Scherler, D. (2014): Climatc limits to headwall retreat in the Khumbu Himalaya, eastern Nepal. Geology, vol. 42(11), p. 1019-1022,  doi:10.1130/G35975.1.

Munack, H., Korup, O., Resentni, A., Limonta, M., Garzant, E., Blöthe, J.H., Scherler, D., Wittmann, H., Kubik, P.W. (2014): Postglacial denudation of western Tibetan Plateau margin outpaced by long-term exhumation. Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol.126, p. 1580-1594, doi:10.1130/B30979.1.

Schwanghart, W., Scherler, D. (2014): Short Communicaton: Topo Toolbox 2 – MATLAB- based sofware for topographic analysis and modeling in Earth surface sciences. Earth Surface Dynamics, vol. 2, p. 1-7, doi:10.5194/esurf-2-1-2014.

Scherler, D., Munack, H., Mey, J., Eugster, P., Witman, H., Codilean, A.T., Kubik, P., Strecker, M.R. (2014): Ice dams, outburst floods, and glacial incision at the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau: a >100-kyr chronology from the Shyok Valley, Karakoram. Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 126, no. 5/6, p. 738–758,  doi:10.1130/B30942.1.

Scherler, D., Bookhagen, B., Strecker, M. R. (2014): Tectonic control on 10Be-derived erosion rates in the Garhwal Himalaya, India. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, vol. 119, p. 1–23, doi:10.1002/2013JF002955.


Schmandt, B., Aster, R., Scherler, D., Tsai, V. C., Karlstrom, K. (2013): Multiple fluvial processes detected by riverside seismic and infrasound monitoring of a controlled flood in the Grand Canyon. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 40, doi:10.1002/grl.50953.


Wulf, H., Bookhagen, B., Scherler, D. (2012): Climatic and geologic controls on suspended sediment flux in the Sutlej River Valley, western Himalaya. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, vol. 16, p. 2193-2217, doi:10.5194/hess-16-2193-2012.

Scherler, D., Strecker, M. R. (2012): Large surface velocity fluctuations of Biafo Glacier, central Karakoram, at high spatial and temporal resolution from optical satellite images. Journal of Glaciology, vol. 58, no. 209, p. 569-580, doi:10.3189/2012JoG11J096.


Scherler, D., Bookhagen, B., Strecker, M. R. (2011): Hillslope-glacier coupling: the interplay of topography and glacial dynamics in High Asia. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, doi:10.1029/2010JF001751.

Scherler, D., Bookhagen, B., Strecker, M. R. (2011): Spatially variable response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change affected by debris cover. Nature Geoscience, vol. 4, p. 156-159, doi:10.1038/NGEO1068.


2010 and earlier 

Scherler, D., Bookhagen, B., Strecker, M. R., von Blanckenburg, F., Rood, D., (2010): Timing and extent of late Quaternary glaciation in the western Himalaya constrained by 10Be moraine dating in Garhwal, India. Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 29, p. 815-831, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2009.11.031 .

Wulf, H., Bookhagen, B., Scherler, D. (2010): Seasonal precipitation gradients and their impact on fluvial sediment flux in the Northwest Himalaya, Geomorphology, vol. 118, p. 13-21, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2009.12.003 .

Scherler, D., Leprince, S., Strecker, M. R. (2008): Glacier-surface velocities in alpine terrain from optical satellite imagery – accuracy improvement and quality assessment. Remote Sensing of Environment , vol. 112, p. 3806-3819, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2008.05.018.

Scherler, D., Kenkmann, T., Jahn, A. (2006): Structural record of an oblique impact. Earth and Planetary Science Letters , vol. 248, p. 43-53, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2006.05.002.

Kenkmann, T., Jahn, A., Scherler, D., Ivanov, B. (2005): Structure and formation of a central uplift: A case study at the Upheaval Dome impact crater, Utah. In: Kenkmann, T., Hörz, F., Deutsch, A., eds., Large Meteorite Impacts III: Geological Society of America Special Paper, vol. 384, p. 85-115, doi:10.1130/0-8137-2384-1.85.

Kenkmann, T., Wittmann, A., Scherler, D. (2004): Structure and impact indicators of the Cretaceous sequence of the ICDP drill core Yaxcopoil-1, Chicxulub impact crater, Mexico. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, vol. 39, no. 7, p. 1069-1088, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2004.tb01129.x .