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Naturgefahren / Natural Hazards

Prof. Oliver Korup, PhD


Prof. Oliver Korup, PhD


Campus Golm | Haus 1 | Raum 1.19
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
14476 Potsdam-Golm

Why Study Natural Hazards?

Our main motivation is prediction: we wish to make informed and useful statements about the locations, impacts, magnitudes, and frequencies of natural hazards. Our current work is concerned with the prediction of landslides and their triggers; the impacts of explosive eruptions on steep, forested landscapes; how rivers respond to earthquakes; and the formation and failure of natural dams.

CV Prof. Oliver Korup

Prof. Oliver Korup, PhD


Prof. Oliver Korup, PhD


Campus Golm | Haus 1 | Raum 1.19
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25
14476 Potsdam-Golm

The Geohazards group @UP

Our group in Fall 2022 (Photo by Tobias Hopfgarten)
Our group in Fall 2022 (from left to right): Maria, Natalie, Lisa, Christian, Melanie, Oliver, Georg, and Joaquin (Photo by Tobias Hopfgarten)


Lisa Luna, Joaquin Ferrer and Oliver Korup speaking at the meeting with the AFAD delegation.

Visit of the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) of Turkey

Oct 27, 2023: Oliver, Lisa and Joaquin presented their research on landslides in a changing world to a delegation from the Republic of Turkey

New study: Landslide initiation thresholds for establishing an early warning system in Sitka, Alaska

Oct 18, 2023: Lisa and Oliver showed that a small number of landslides from only 5 rainstorms can help learn useful models for early landslide warning.

Georg Veh and Christian Mohr taught field classes in the Harz mountains (left) and Rügen (right).

Field classes 2023: Rügen and Harz Mountains

September, 2023: Chris and Georg taught undergraduate field classes on physical geography and geomorphology.

Desolation Lake, dammed by Lituya Glacier, Alaska, USA. Photo by Georg Veh

New study: A global database of historic glacier lake outburst floods

July 12, 2023: Natalie published the results of her Master's thesis, for which she had compiled thousands of GLOFs in an unprecedented literature review.

New doctor: Lisa Luna

June 22, 2023: Lisa defended her dissertation, in which she explored the conditions and possibilities for predicting rainfall-triggered landslides.

Georg speaking about ice-dammed lake outburst floods at the Penrose conference (Photo: N. Lützow)

Geohazards @ 2023 GSA Penrose: The Role of Outburst Floods in Earth and Planetary Evolution

June 05-09, 2023: With two talks and a poster, we made a great contribution to the state-of-the-art in outburst research.

Field camp in Lituya Bay. Photo: M. Geertsema

International fieldwork in Lituya Bay, Alaska, USA

May 22 - June 01, 2023: Natalie, Georg, and Oliver studied glaciers, deltas, and the depth of Lituya Bay, Alaska, which is repeatedly hit by GLOFs.

A proglacial lake. Photo: Georg Veh

New paper: Underestimated mass loss from lake-terminating glaciers in the greater Himalaya

Apr 23, 2023: Mass loss of the glaciers in the Himalayas is higher than previously assumed because the meltwater trapped in lakes has been neglected so far

Ice-dammed lake at Brady Glacier, Alaska, USA. Photo by Georg Veh

New paper: Less extreme and earlier outbursts from ice-dammed lakes since 1900

Feb 15, 2023: Smaller, earlier, higher: Several members of our group worked on quantifying long-term changes in ice-dammed lakes.

Fieldwork in Pokhara (Photo by Elisabeth Schönfeldt)

New study: Modern and medieval outburst floods in Pokhara, Nepal

Jan 11, 2023: Melanie used numerical models to generate flooding scenarios for Pokhara ranging from meterological to cataclysmic lake outburst floods.

The Andes (Source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/landschaft-lastwagen-anden-dessert-74572/)

New study: Milankovitch-paced erosion in the southern Central Andes

Jan 26, 2023: Lisa co-authored a study showing that erosion rates are synchronous with 400-kyr Milankovitch cycles in the southern Central Andes.

New doctor: Mauricio Arboleda Zapata

Jan 20, 2023: Maurico successfully defended his PhD thesis on inversion strategies for electrical resistivity data. Congratulations!

Poster award for Natalie Lützow at the Mid-European Geomorphology Meeting 2022

Nov 27, 2022: Natalie's poster on "Global trends and patterns of glacier lake outburst floods since 1900" convinced the jury. Congratulations!

Lisa's talk at the LandAware Workshop 2022 on Youtube

Oct 05, 2022: Click here to see Lisa Luna's invited talk on incomplete landslide inventories at the Landaware workshop in Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Call for a session on biogeomorphology at EGU 2023

Click here for more details on our proposed session on short- and long-term dynamics of vegetated landscapes, co-convened by Christian Mohr.

Logo of the German Society of Geomorphology

Three posters at the Mid-European Geomorphology Meeting 2022

Nov 24-27, 2022: Natalie, Joaquin, and Georg will present their ongoing work on large landslides and global and local outbursts of glacier lakes.

Drawings on a blackboard

Teaching in the winter term 2022 / 2023

Oct 2022: We teach a variety of classes on natural hazards, geomorphology, environmental statistics, programming, and GIS. Check out the full list here.

New doctor: Melanie Fischer

Oct 21, 2022: Melanie successfully defended her PhD thesis on regional susceptibility and local hazard from glacier lake outbursts. Congratulations!

Fieldwork along the Seti Khola, Pokhara, October 2019. Photo by Elisabeth Schönfeldt

New paper: Rare flood scenarios for a rapidly growing high-mountain city: Pokhara, Nepal

25 September 2022: Melanie and Oliver used hydrodynamic models and high-resolution satellite images to detect the zones of highest flood hazard in Pokhara

Rock avalanche onto a Lamplugh Glacier, September 2022. Photo by Georg Veh

Impressive field work in Alaska and British Columbia

Sep 11-24, 2022: Natalie, Oliver, and Georg investigated the role of landslides, rock avalanches, glacier lakes, and outburst floods in a warming climate.

An overhead look at the slide in Washington. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/51689774569

New paper: Seasonal Landslide Activity Lags Annual Precipitation Pattern in the Pacific Northwest

Sep 21, 2022: Lisa found that landslides in the PNW are most likely to occur in January to February, lagging behind winter rainfall by 1-2 months.

New paper: Deep learning reveals one of Earth's largest landslide terrain in Patagonia

15 August 2022: Using convolutional neural networks, Elli and Oliver detected thousands of squarekilometers of landslide terrain in Patagonia.

Two invited talks at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Chicago, Dec 2022

August 2022: Lisa and Georg will present their latest research on rainfall thresholds for landslides in cities and ice-dam failures in high mountains.

New team member: Natalie Lützow

August 2022: Natalie has joined the REACT project to investigate glacier-related hazards in NW North America.

Sten Gilfert (Photo: Monja Tauber)

New team member: Sten Gilfert

01 August 2022: Sten joined RETROGRESS to investigate the influence of wind and soil organic carbon on landsliding in the Coastal Rainforests of Patagonia.

Deep-seated gravitational slope deformations along the Gepatsch reservoir (Photo: Joaquin Ferrer)

Joaquin at summer school with the International Association for Engineering Geology and Environment

July 2022: Joaquin met international experts to discuss the interaction between infrastructure and large landslides in Italy and Austria.

New doctor: Elisabeth Schönfeldt

14 June 2022: Elli successfully defended her PhD thesis on giant landslides in Patagonia, Argentina. Congratulations, Elli!

Maria Isabel Arango

New team member: Maria Isabel Arango

01 April 2022: Maria joined us within the BB-KI Chips project, in which she will combine AI and physics-based models for natural hazard assessment.

Glacier lake (Photo by Oliver Korup)

New DFG-funded project

04 March 2022: We will soon have a new PhD candiate focusing on glacier-related hazards in the NW Pacific Coastal Mountains

Glacier lake in Norway (Photo by Georg Veh)

New paper: Trends, Breaks, and Biases in the Frequency of Reported Glacier Lake Outburst Floods

28 Feb 2022: Our new study shows that the occurrence of reported GLOFs could be strongly underestimated in the early 20th century.

Landslides in Chile after a volcanic eruption (image credits: Christian Mohr)

PhD opportunity in the DFG-funded RETROGRESS project!

12 Dec 2021: We offer a 3-year PhD position on landsliding by biomass surcharge and wind disturbance in Patagonian rainforests. Interested? Click here!

KoUP-funded exchange with Canadian colleagues

18 - 25 Nov 2021: Olli and Georg had fruitful discussions with John Clague and Marten Geertsema about establishing joint projects on mountain hazards.

2021 EGU's Outstanding Student and PhD candidate presentation award for Elisabeth Schönfeldt

04 Nov 2021: Our group member Elli was awarded for her poster "Detect Giant Landslides with Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)". Congratulations!

Tree rings under the microscope (Image credits by Christian Mohr)

Great media coverage for Christian's new study

21 Oct 2021: Christian's paper on the signature of earthquakes in tree rings has been featured by Science and EOS.

Teaching in 2021 (Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/math-blackboard-education-classroom-1547018/)

We teach new classes in the winter term 2021!

25 Oct 2021: Click here to see an overview of our classes that we offer this semester, including brand-new classes in the CLEWS master's program.

Tree rings (source: https://pixabay.com/photos/annual-rings-tree-wood-texture-3212803/)

New Article: Trees Talk Tremor

Sep 25, 2021: Using isotopic and wood anatomic proxies, Christian's new study quantifies the impacts of earthquakes on soil water and tree growth.

Joaquin Ferrer (Credits: Joaquin Ferrer)

New team member: Joaquin Ferrer

On 01 Oct 2021, Joaquin Ferrer joined our research group. Joaquin will work on predicting large landslides from complex network. Welcome!

Chalk cliffs on Jasmund peninsula, Ruegen (Photo by Georg Veh)

Field classes 2021: Rügen and Harz

August / September 2021: Christian and Georg taught field classes for geoecologists and geographers in the Bachelor's program.

Glacier lake (Photo by Georg Veh)

New Article: Controls of outbursts of moraine-dammed lakes in the greater Himalayan region

July 12, 2021: Melanie published a study that explores the susceptibility of Himalayan glacier lakes to sudden outbursts.

EGU Logo

Geohazards @ EGU

23-26th April 2021: our group members Melanie, Elisabeth, and Georg will present their progress on flood modelling, landslide detection, and GLOF hazard.


New Book: Geomorphology and Natural Hazards

Oliver wrote a graduate level textbook that helps understand landscape change for disaster mitigation.

Lisa Luna

Outstanding Student Presentation Award for Lisa Luna

March 2021: Our group member Lisa won the prize for an excellent poster at the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Elisabeth Schönfeldt doing field work (Image from Elisabeth Schönfeldt)

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Feb 11, 2021: Lisa Luna and Elisabeth Schönfeldt will be presenting their research on landslides at the University of Potsdam's #WomenInScience event"

Wildfires (Mike Lewelling, National Park Service)

New Article: Cascading hazards in the aftermath of Australia's 2019/2020 Black Summer wildfires

Our working group contributed to a paper in Earth’s Future about cascading hazards after the Australian fire season 2019/20.

The Cryosphere Logo (https://www.the-cryosphere.net/)

New article in discussion: Controls of outbursts of moraine-dammed lakes in the Himalayas

Melanie tests the effects of elevation, lake area and its rate of change, glacier-mass balance and monsoonality on sudden glacier lake outburst floods.

Rockslide in Patagonia (Image by Elisabeth Schönfeldt)

Award for Elli: best talk at the annual meeting of German geomorphologists

Sep 29: Elli convinced the committee with her talk "Giant slope failures as breeding grounds for earthflows in the Patagonian Andean foreland". Congrats!

Bayes' Theorem

New Article: Bayesian Geomorphology

Sep 07, 2020: Oliver published an article that introduces Bayesian methods to scientists concerned with Earth surface processes and landforms.

Lago Pueyrredón. Photo by E. Schönfeldt

New Article: Giant landslides of the Lago Pueyrredón valley in Patagonia, Argentina

Elisabeth and Oliver were involved in mapping, dating, and interpreting giant low-gradient landslides in glacial deposits around Lago Pueyrredón.

Landslides (source: Sciencemag)

New Article: How robust are landslide susceptibility estimates?

Oliver was involved in a study that investigated whether hillslopes become more or less prone for landslides after years of monitoring.

Earthflow in Patagonia (sketch by Elisabeth Schönfeldt)

New Article: Postglacial Patagonian mass movement in the Andean foreland

In her first PhD paper, Elisabeth analysed the role of water in triggering large earthflows in Patagonia during the late Holocene.

A tropical mountain river. Photo by O. Korup

New Article: Tropical Mountain Rivers

Oliver and Julia wrote a review article on the geomorphology of tropical mountain rivers, and their changes through the Quarternary.


Our courses in the summer term 2020

Apr 15, 2020: Our courses 'Naturgefahren: Grundlagen' and 'Wie natürlich sind Naturkatastrophen im Anthrophozän?' will be online until further notice.Please visit PULS and click here for more details.

Rock avalanche in Patagonia

Fieldwork in Patagonia

Feb 10-26, 2020: Our group member Elisabeth Schönfeldt has been on a field campaign in Argentinian Patagonia. Click here to read her impressions in the field.

Deutschlandfunk (source: deutschlandradio.de)

Our research in Deutschlandfunk

Jan 02, 2020: A reporter from Deutschlandfunk interviewed our group member Georg on our new study on glacier lake outburst floods (in german).

Glacier lake at below Brewster Glacier (Image credit: Oliver Korup).

New Article: Hazard from Himalayan glacier lake outburst floods

Dec 30, 2019: Click here to learn more about the return periods of catastrophic moraine-dam failures in the Himalayas.


Writing a scientific paper

Nov 21, 2019: Oliver shared his experience about the Do's and Don'ts when writing a scientific paper. Click here to see our notes that we took from revising two abstracts.

Lenka Tlapakova (image credits: Lenka Tlapakova)

Visiting guest scientist

Lenka Tlapakova from the University of Ostrava spends an ERASMUS exchange in our working group. She will focus on the role of the hillslope-channel coupling in the formation of fluvial terraces.

Landslides in the wake of earthquake (image credits: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/blogging-danger-and-sometimes-art-deadly-landslides)

Landslides @ AGU

Dec 13, 2019: Oliver will give a talk on Bayesian landslide models at the 2019 Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Image source: Elisabeth Schönfeldt

Fieldwork in Pokhara, Nepal

Oct 28: Our member Melanie Fischer is assessing flood risk for Nepal's second largest city Pokhara. Georg and Elisabeth (who has taken this image) help her to measure the geometry of the Seti River.

Disturbance-ecogeomorphic research across continents

Christian Mohr attended the 2019 Coastal Rainforest Margin Research Network workshop held in Juneau initiating new collaborations with CU Denver and U Washington.

Photo by Georg Veh

Geohazards @ Galileo Conference on extreme geomorphological events, Nepal

Oct 14-19: Five of us joined a conference focusing on perturbations of the earth surface by extreme events. The field trip led us to the catastrophic consequences from the 2015 Ghorka earthquake.

Opportunities for Bachelor's and Master's projects in our working group

MSc Thesis: Geomorphic Responses to the Wild Fires in Bohemian-Saxonian sandstone ecosystems

Aug 17, 2022: We offer a Master's project on MSc-project that tests landslide susceptibility by biotic controls along gradients of fire intensity and forest structure. Click here for more details.

Master theses: Detecting glacier lakes using deep learning

August 2022: We offer two Master's projects to learn more about the current distribution of glacier lakes using Deep Convolutional Networks. Click here for more info.

Drone survey in Chile

Offer for a Master's project in our working group

Apr 01, 2021: We offer a Master's project on constraining the magnitudes of severe floods in Patagonia. Click here for more details.

Drone survey in Patagonia

Offer for a Master's project in our working group

Apr 01, 2021: We offer a Master's projects on carbon storage in temperate rainforests following disturbances.

Glacier flood in Peru 2012. Photo courtesy of Adam Emmer (glofs-database.org)

Offer for two Master projects on glacier floods in the Southern Andes

June 08, 2020: We are looking for motivated Master students who are keen in quantifying the magnitude and frequency of glacier floods in the Chilean Andes. Click here to see the full description.

Landslide in Chile (credits by C.H. Mohr)

Offer for a Master's project in our working group

Feb 10, 2020: We offer two new Master's projects in our working group. Project I aims at modeling biomass surcharge as potential landslide drivers. Click here for more details.

Atmospheric rivers in British Columbia

Offer for a Master's project in our working group

Feb 10, 2020: We offer two new Master's projects in our working group. Project II focuses on landslides caused by Atmospheric Rivers in British Columbia, Canada. Click here for more details.

Glacier lakes in Austria. Image source: Google Earth

Offer for a Bachelor thesis: Glacier lakes in the European Alps

25 Sep 2019: Click here for more information on a Bachelor thesis in our working group, focussing on multi-temporal mapping of glacier lakes in the European Alps from satellite imagery.

Rock avalanche in Alaska. Source: https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2016/07/03/lamplugh-glacier-rock-avalanche-1/

Offer for two Master theses: Rock avalanches on glaciers

25 Sep 2019: Click here to see more information for two Master theses, focussing on the detection of large rock slope failures on glaciers in the Himalaya-Karakoram and Coast Mountains of Alaska.

Mountaineers climbing the Mt. Everest in 2019

Bachelor or Master thesis: Conquering Mount Everest

Oct 28, 2019: We offer a Bachelor or Master project to systematically explore incidents during high altitude mountaineering in the Himalayas associated with natural hazards.


Research topic

Find out more about the research topics of the working group.

Research projects

Research projects

Find more information about our current projects.