Peter Schlosser

Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics and Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Associate Director of Earth Institute

Office: 842C S.W. Mudd
(212) 854-0306


Ph.D.(Environmental Physics) University of Heidelberg, FRD
M.S. (Physics) University of Heidelberg
B.S.(Physics) University of Heidelberg

Professional Experience

1986: Assistant Professor, Institute for Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg
1994: Vetlesen Fellow and Visiting Professor, Univ. of Washington - Seattle
1993 - Present: Professor, Columbia University; 1993 - Present: Senior Research Scientist, L-DEO

Current Research and Teaching

Selected activities:
Studies of water movement and its variability in natural systems using natural and anthropogenic substances and isotopes as "tracers" or as "radioactive clocks"; ocean/atmosphere gas exchange; anthropogenic impact on natural systems.
Human impacts on our environment have created a variety of societal problems that need solutions based on thorough scientific understanding of our natural systems. Professor Schlosser has focused on studies of water movement in natural systems (mainly oceans and groundwater), using natural and anthropogenic trace substances such as radiocarbon, oxygen-18, radioactive hydrogen and its decay product He-3. He has also used measurements of noble gases in groundwater to reconstruct continental paleotemperature records. In the ocean, we use these substances either as regional or global "dyes" to investigate the movement of water from the ocean surface into the deep basins and to study circulation patterns in the deep ocean. Proffesor Schlosser has also applied radioactive isotopes to determine the age of specific water masses. His continuing research adds to the basic understanding of ocean circulation and further our knowledge of the oceans role in climate variability. The same principles are used to investigate groundwater flow in shallow and deep aquifers, providing results that are relevant for environmental risk and impact studies. Groundwater ages also provide a chronology for paleoclimate records reconstructed from groundwater flow systems. A new line of research is the release of SF-6 and He-3 into rivers and estuaries to study mixing and gas exchange.


Ludin, A., Weppernig, R., Bonisch, G., and Schlosser, P., 1997. Mass spectrometric measurement of helium isotopes and tritium. Manuscript for AGU monograph "Tracer Oceanography".

Zheng, Y., Schlosser, P., Swift, J.H. and Jones, E.P., 1997. Oxygen utilization rates in the Nansen Basin, Arctic Ocean: Implications for new production. Deep-Sea Research, 44, 1923-1943.

Heinze, C., Maier-Reimer, E., and Schlosser, P., 1998. Transient tracers in a global OGCM: source functions and simulated distributions J. Geophysical Research, in press. Also published as report no. 197 of the Max-Planck-Institut fur Meteorologie, Hamburg Germany, May 1996, 29 pp.. (ISSN 0937-1060)

Mensch, M., Smethie, W.M., Jr., Schlosser, P., 1998. Transient tracer distributions observed during the drift and recovery of Ice Station Weddell. Accepted for publication in the AGU Antarctic Research Series, edited by S.S. Jacobs and R.F. Weiss.

Chen. T.-W., Martinson, D.G., and Schlosser, P., 1998. Simulation of geomechanical tracers in the upper layers of the Weddll Sea using a one-dimensional coupled sea-ice/mixed-layer model, to be submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research.

Plummer, L.N., Busenberg, E., Drenkard, S., Schlosser, P., McConnell, J.B., Michel, R.L., Ekwurzel, B., and Weppernig, R., 1998. Flow of river water into a karstic limestone aquifer - 2. Dating the young fraction in ground-water mixtures in the Upper Floridan aquifer near Valdosta, Georgia, using tritium/helium-3 and chlorofluorocarbons. Applied Geochemistry, accepted for publication.

Schlosser, P., D.-Shapiro, S., Stute, M., Aeschbach-Hertig, W., Plummer, N., and Busenberg, E., 1998. Tritium/He dating of young groundwater: chronologies for environmental records. International Atomic Energy Agency, in press.

Castro, M.C., Jambon, A., de Marsily, G., and Schlosser, P., 1998. Noble gases as natural tracres of water circulation in the Paris Basin, part I: measurements and disicussion of their origin and mechanisms of vertical transport in the basin. Accepted for publication in Water Resources Research.

Ho, D., Bilven, L.F., Wanninkhof, R.F., and Schlosser, P., 1997. The effect of rain on air0-water gas exchange. Tellus, 49B, 149-158.

Shapiro, S., Schlosser, P., Smethie, W.W., Jr., and Stute, M., 1997. Use of H and tritiogenic He to determine CFC degradation rates in Framvaren Fjord, Norway. Marine Chemistry, 59, 141-157.

Ho, D.T., Schlosser, P., Smethie, W.M., Jr., and Simpson, H.J., 1998. Atmospheric Chlorofluorocarbon Mixing Ratios Near a Large Urban Area: Implications for Groundwater Dating. Accepted for publication in Environmental Science and Technology.

Memberships: American Geophysical Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Oceanography Society, Arctic Institute of North America, German Physical Society, New York Academy of Sciences.

500 W. 120th St., 918 Mudd, New York, NY 10027    212-854-2905                
©2012 Columbia University