Robert van Geldern

PD Dr. Robert van Geldern

PD Dr. Robert van Geldern

Geozentrum Nordbayern
Chair of Applied and Environmental Geology (Prof. Barth, Ph.D.)

Room: Room 2.112
Schlossgarten 5
91054 Erlangen

Research Interests

  • Isotope hydrology and hydrogeology
  • Light stable isotope geochemistry of water and sediments
  • Method development and analytical chemistry
  • Water chemistry and biogeochemical cycles

January 2015: Habilitation (Dr. habil.) and Privatdozent (PD) at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
2009 – today: “Wissenschaftlicher Assistent”, GeoZentrum Nordbayern, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
2004 – 2008: Research associate and deputy section head, Leibniz-Institut for Applied Geophysics, Geozentrum Hannover
1998 – 2004: PhD position and dissertation in geology, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg
1992 – 1998: Diploma studies in geology, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg


















  • Water and carbon stable isotopes in rivers as climate proxies in the Mediterranean

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: 1. January 2016 - 31. December 2017
    Funding source: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)

    The Mediterranean Basin is located in the transition zone between west wind drift and the subtropical high-pressure belt. As reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and others, the western Mediterranean is one of the most prominent climate change hotspots in Europe and also worldwide. Located within this area, Corsica in the western Mediterranean is a site that will be potentially affected largely by any climatic variations in the future. This makes it extremely important to improve our understating of the dynamics of the hydrologic cycle and water recharge at the island of Corsica. Ideal tools to study such processes are environmental tracers. This joint project will ideally combine analytical capabilities and scientific knowledge to receive a better understanding of the aquatic system and the driving processes. This will ultimately lead to a better knowledge about the water resources of the island and its role in the global carbon cycle.

  • Influences of high reliefs on isotope hydrology and coupled climate proxies

    (Third Party Funds Single)

    Term: since 1. January 2016
    Funding source: DFG-Einzelförderung / Sachbeihilfe (EIN-SBH)

    Climate proxies such as tree rings rely on stable isotope ratios for the reconstruction of palaeoclimatic conditions. Such information then allow the calibration of models that evaluate and predict ongoing and future effects of global climate change. According to model predictions, the western Mediterranean is a region that will face severe climatic changes. Therefore, the island of Corsica in that region has been the target for palaeoclimate reconstructions by means of dendrochronology and stable isotopes. However, the oxygen stable isotope results from Corsican pines could not yet be interpreted satisfactorily. The oxygen stable isotope values (delta18O) of tree rings mainly depend on the oxygen isotope ratio of local precipitation and soil water. The precipitation delta18O values vary according to temperature, altitude and the moisture source area. Such parameters are determined nowadays rather precise but need to be assumed for the past. An important isotope effect is the so-called altitude effect that describes the relation of the delta18O value of precipitation and altitude. The large global network of isotopes in precipitation (GNIP) database of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allows for a good regional estimate of isotope effects. However, things become more difficult in regions with high and steep mountain reliefs. Some latest publications suggest that the altitude gradient is absent in such regions during specific seasons. The reason for that observation could be seasonal height variations of the atmospheric planetary boundary layer (PBL). This isotope hydrology proposal is part of the project package CorsicArchive that also consists of interlinking proposals for climate, dendroisotopes and dendroecology. It is planned to install and regularly sample nine isotope precipitation samplers along an east-west altitudinal transect. This proposal will specifically explore the dynamics of the PBL and the isotope altitude effect. Additional questions relate to moisture source of air masses and the local moisture recycling within the islands hydrologic cycle. Furthermore, soil water and surface water analyses are planned to trace and quantify changes of the delta18O values along the pathway of water to the tree rings. The approach of this proposal aims to fill the gaps in the current knowledge of isotope hydrology of high reliefs and will finally lead to a more robust interpretation of related climate proxies in a climate change sensitive region. With respect to the current climate change, it is essential to understand climatic variations and its triggers in the past to better predict future changes.