Peter Schlosser


842C S.W. Mudd

Tel(212) 854-0306

The focus of Peter Schlosser’s work is water movement in natural systems, human perturbation of Earth’s natural state, and the possibility of designing engineering solutions to human-caused problems. His research on groundwater flow contributes to environmental risk and impact studies. Schlosser is the founding director of Columbia’s Climate Center, which takes a multidisciplinary approach to climate change and sustainable development.

Research Interests

Aqueous geochemistry, physical oceanography, climate, contaminant transport

Schlosser uses trace substances like noble gases and radioactive isotopes as “dyes,” to investigate the movement of water from the surface to deep basins and to study oceanic circulation patterns. His research has helped determine the age of specific water masses, further understanding of the role of oceans in climate variability, and reconstruct paleoclimate records. He has injected small amounts of inert trace gases into water bodies of interest, such as the Hudson River, to study their spreading and mixing. These experiments provide the closest analogs to the spreading of contaminants in the environment. He also combines experimental work with modeling studies to understand the underlying physics of water circulation. Such modeling studies provide insight into water management options.

Schlosser received a BS in physics in 1981 and a PhD in environmental physics in 1985 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Geophysical Union.

Research Experience

  • Research assistant, Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1981–1986

Professional Experience

  • Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics, Columbia University, 2015–
  • Chair of earth and environmental engineering, Columbia University, 2000–2003, 2015–
  • Deputy director, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, 2012–
  • Director of research, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, 2007–
  • Founding chair, Earth Institute faculty, Columbia University, 2009–2015
  • Vinton Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, 2009–2014
  • Director, Columbia Climate Center, Columbia University, 2007–
  • Professor of earth and environmental engineering, Columbia University, 1993–
  • Senior research scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 1993–
  • Assistant professor, Institute for Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, 1986–1989

Professional Affiliations

  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union
  • Fellow, Explorers Club
  • Member, New York Academy of Sciences
  • Member, European Geophysical Union
  • Member, German National Academy of Sciences

Selected Publications

  • Arslan, S., H. Yazicigil, M. Stute, P. Schlosser, and W. M. Smethie, Jr., 2014. Analysis of groundwater dynamics in the complex aquifer system of Kazan Trona, Turkey, using environmental tracers and noble gases. Hydrogeology Journal, 23, 1, 175-194.
  • Loose, B., W. R. McGillis, D. Perovich, C. J. Zappa, and P. Schlosser, 2014. A parameter model of gas exchange for the seasonal sea ice zone. Ocean Science, 10, 1, 17-28.
  • L Steur, M Steele, E Hansen, J Morison, I Polyakov, SM Olsen, H Melling, FA McLaughlin, R. Kwok, WM Smethie, Jr., P. Schlosser, 2013. Hydrographic changes in the Lincoln Sea in the Arctic Ocean with focus on an upper ocean freshwater anomaly between 2007 and 2010. Journal o Geophysical Research: Oceans 118 (9), 4699-4715
  • Arslan, S, Yazicigil, H., Stute, M., and Schlosser, P., 2013. Environmental Isotopes and Noble Gases in the Deep Aquifer System of Kazan Trona Ore Field, Ankara, Central Turkey and links to Paleoclimate. Quaternary Research. Volume 79, Issue 2, March 2013, Pages 292–303
  • Schmieder, P., Ho, D.T., Schlosser, P., Clark, J.F., and Schladow, G.S., 2008. An SF6 Tracer Study of the Flow Dynamics in the Stockton Deep Water Channel: Implications for Dissolved Oxygen. Estuaries and Coasts; DOI 10.1007/s12237-008-9093-0