Johannes Sutter, PhD

Alfred-Wegener Institut
Climate Science / Paleoclimate Dynamics

PhD-project: Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics in the Quaternary

My main research focus is centered on the fate of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in a changing climate both in the past as well as in the future.  To improve predictions of future climate and ice sheet changes it is invaluable to take a close up look into the past. In my research I investigate the dramatic evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) during the last 130.000 years and beyond, in order to shed light on the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) in warm climates (, Antarctica’s contribution to sea level variations in the past ( and in the future, and to improve the understanding of the climate archive conserved in Antarctic ice cores.
Additionally, as a research analyst in a German science and policy think tank (German Advisory Council on Global Change, WBGU), I investigate the complex interdependencies between changes in the climate system and the future sustainability of human civilization. 

Start of doctoral thesis: 1st October 2011
Defense of doctoral thesis: 17th March 2016

Thesis Committee:
Supervisor : Prof. Dr. Gerrit Lohmann
Further members: Dr. Malte Thoma, Sebastian Goeller, Dr. Martin Werner, Dr. Anna Wegner, Prof. Dr. Frank Wilhelms

Selected publications:

  • Sutter, J., P. Gierz, K. Grosfeld, M. Thoma, and G. Lohmann (2016), Ocean temperature thresholds for Last Interglacial West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 2675–2682, doi:10.1002/2016GL067818.

  • de Boer, B., Dolan, A. M., Bernales, J., Gasson, E., Goelzer, H., Golledge, N. R., Sutter, J., Huybrechts, P., Lohmann, G., Rogozhina, I., Abe-Ouchi, A., Saito, F., and van de Wal, R. S. W.: Simulating the Antarctic ice sheet in the late-Pliocene warm period: PLISMIP-ANT, an ice-sheet model intercomparison project, The Cryosphere, 9, 881-903, doi:10.5194/tc-9-881-2015, 2015.

WBGU (German Advisory Council on Global Change):

  • WBGU – German Advisory Council on Global Change (2016): Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities.
  • WBGU – German Advisory Council on Global Change (2014):  Climate Protection as a World Citizen Movement.


  • Talk, IGS Symposium (2015), Cambridge: Antarctic Eemian ice sheet-shelf dynamics controlled by sustained ocean warming.

  • Poster, EGU-European Geosciences Union (2015), Wien, Learning from the past: Antarctic Eemian ice sheet dynamics as an analogy for future warming.

  • Poster, MOCA (2014) Joint Model-data workshop for the Late Pleistocene evolution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, Grenoble, Transient simulations of the Antarctic ice sheet, focus on the last glacial cycle.

  • Poster, EGU-European Geosciences Union (2013), Wien, 3D tracer advection in polar ice sheets. Modelling stratigraphy and isotope distribution in Greenland & Antarctica.

  • EGU General Assembly 2012, Vienna, Poster presentation: "Tracing isotopes through ice: Integration of passive tracers in a three-dimensional ice sheet model", 22 - 27 April 2012

  • Helmholtz Research School on Earth System Science, Annual Retreat 2012, Bremerhaven, “Deutsches Auswandererhaus“, Poster Presentation: Sutter, J et al., “Modeling isotope distributions in Greenland and Antarctica“. 30 November, 2012.

Summer Schools/Workshops:

  • 2012 Karthaus Summer School on Glaciers and Ice Sheets in the Climate System, 12 - 21 September 2012, Italy
  • Workshops: 2012 Gateway to the Arctic, Franco-German Seminar


  • Antarctica-Expedition ANT XIX/6, 08.06.13 - 12.08.13, Cape Town, South Africa to Punta Arenas, South Chile.