Max Planck Gesellschaft
M.Sc. Roman Witt
PhD student

room: B1.019
phone: +49 3641 576149

Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Hans-Knöll-Str. 10
07745 Jena

Research Interests

  • Organic biogeochemistry of sediments to reconstruct the past, especially stable isotope geochemistry
  • Paleoclimatology

Detailed research subjects include:

  • Identification and isolation of sedimentary biomarkers (n-alkanes & alkenones)
  • δD values of sedimentary n-alkanes
  • bulk δ13C & δ15N, TN, TOC of lake sediments
Further Information about monsoon research on the Tibetan Plateau in Geomax Vol. 19 Δ sponsored by Max Planck Society 

Area of work:

Tibetan Plateau

The Tibetan Plateau acts as a major driver of the Asian monsoon intensity and responds sensitive to climate changes. The monsoonal activity on the Plateau is of particular importance for the water availability of millions of people living in neighboring countries. To reconstruct past environmental changes, we focused on lacustrine sediments of the second largest lake on the south central Tibetan Plateau, Nam Co. The 11 m sediment core NC 08/01 was taken in the southeastern part of the Nam Co from a water depth of 93 m. The sediments date back to 23000 yr BP and thus, stored climate information almost from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). In order to give evidence on first periods of the south asian monsoon initiation, we determine the amount and the compound specific hydrogen isotopic content of aquatic n-alkanes between 21 and 23 kyr BP.

This project was funded by the DFG


As a neighboring area of the Tibetan Plateau, Kyrgystan located in the Tien Shan mountain range is very strong influenced by the Westerlies air masses. Various climate records from lacustrine sediments from the Tibetan Plateau indicated a strong connection of the Westerlies and the Asian Monsoon. Strengthening of the Westerlies coincides with the weakening of the Monsoon. To reconstruct the paleoclimate during the Holocene in order to understand the variability of Westerly-Monsoon connection we isolate terrestrial and aquatic biomarkers from sediment cores and use their compound specific hydrogen isotope ratios. The isotopic composition of their source water will give us information on plant communities, lake levels and precipitation.

The project "CADY - Central Asian Climate Dynamics" is funded by the BMBF, and is part of the main "CAME - Central Asia-Monsoon Dynamics & Geo-Ecosystems" project
There is a strong collaboration with the GFZ in Potsdam, which is responsible for coring, sedimentology and inorganic geochemistry.

Academic Career

since 10/2015Research stay in Melbourne, VIC
2011-2015PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (Biogeochemical Processes Group)
Thesis: "Reconstruction of climate variability in Central Asia using lake sediments"
03-05/2014Foreign research stay at BECS (Biomarkers for Environmental and Climate Science) Research Group within the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow under supervision of Dr. Jaime Toney
since 05/2011associated PhD student of the International Max Planck Research School for global Biogeochemical Cycles (IMPRS-gBGC)
2011Master of Science in Biogeosciences, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena
Thesis: "Paläoklimarekonstruktion des Tibetischen Plateaus anhand eines Nam Co Sedimentkerns"
2008Bachelor of Science in Biogeosciences, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena
Thesis: "Hydrogeologische Kartierung der Mineralwässer von Bad Sulza (Nordteil)"

Conferences & Workshops


  • Witt, R., Lauterbach, S., Günther, F., Kasper, T., Mäusbacher, R., Yao, T., Gleixner, G. (accepted; 2015): Biogeochemical evidence for freshwater periods during the Last Glacial Maximum recorded in lake sediments from Nam Co, southern-central Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Paleolimnology
  • Günther, F., Witt, R., Schouten, S., Mäusbacher, R., Daut, G., Zhu, L., Xu, B., Yao, T., Gleixner, G. (2015): Quaternary ecological responses and impacts of the Indian Ocean Summer Monsoon at Nam Co, Southern Tibetan Plateau. Quaternary Science Reviews 112, 66-77. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.023


  • Lauterbach , S., Witt, R., Plessen, B., Dulski, P., Prasad, S., Mingram, J.,Gleixner, G., Hettler-Riedel, S., Stebich, M., Schnetger, B., Schwalb, A. & Schwarz, A.(2014) Climatic imprint of the mid-latitude Westerlies in the Central Tian Shan of Kyrgyzstan and teleconnections to North Atlantic climate variability during the last 6000 years. The Holocene, first published on June 4, 2014. abstract


  • 12/2013 R. Witt, S. Lauterbach, S. Prasad, R. Mäusbacher & G. Gleixner (2013): Influence of the Westerlies on arid regions during the Holocene recorded in sediments from Lake Son Kol and Chatyr Kol, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. AGU Fall Meeting 2013, 12.2013, San Francisco, CA, USA - poster
  • 08/2013 R. Witt, S. Lauterbach, S. Prasad, R. Mäusbacher & G. Gleixner (2013): Recent and past hydrological and climatic changes at Lake Son Kol, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. 28th Himalayan Karakorum Tibet Workshop and 6th International Symposium on Tibetan Plateau, 20.-24.08.2013, Tübingen, Germany - poster
  • 08/2013 F. Günther, R. Witt, R. Mäusbacher, S. Schouten, B. Xu, T. Yao & G. Gleixner (2013): Reconstruction of Indian Ocean summer monsoon dynamics at Nam Co using lipid biomarkers since 24 ka BP. 28th Himalayan Karakorum Tibet Workshop and 6th International Symposium on Tibetan Plateau, 20.-24.08.2013, Tübingen, Germany - poster
  • 04/2013 Lauterbach, S., Dulski, P., Gleixner, G., Hettler-Riedel, S., Mingram, J., Plessen, B., Prasad, S., Schwalb, A., Schwarz, A., Stebich, M. & Witt, R. (2013): Mid- to Late Holocene climate development in Central Asia as revealed from multi-proxy analyses of sediments from Lake Son Kol (Kyrgyzstan). EGU General Assembly 2013, 07.-12.04.2013, Vienna, Austria - poster


  • 12/2012 G. Gleixner, F. Günther, R. Witt, B. Xu & T. Yao (2012): Hydrogen Isotopes of terrestrial and aquatic biomarkers record the water cycle on the Tibetan Plateau. AGU Fall Meeting 2012, 12.2012, San Francisco, CA, USA - poster
  • 12/2012 waterextraction at Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
  • 09/2012 Phd course "Molecular Organic Biogeochemistry" NIOZ Texel, Netherlands
  • 09/2012 Annual Meeting CAME, Frankfurt/Main, Germany - Talk
  • 01/2012 joint DFG-TIP and BMBF-CAME workshop, Oberjoch, Germany - Talk


  • 11/2011 Joint TiP Summer School and TPE training course Kathmandu, Nepal (link)
  • 03/2011 R. Witt, F. Günther, B. Xu, T. Yao, R. Mäusbacher & G. Gleixner (2011): High-resolution palaeoclimate reconstruction of Lake Nam Co, Tibetan Plateau (21-23 ka BP). 7th Sino-German Workshop on Tibetan Plateau Research, DFG Priority Programme 1372 (TiP) meeting; 03.-05.03.2011 Hamburg, Germany - Poster


  • 07/2012 3rd Fieldtrip: Kyrgyzstan (Son Kol & Chatyr Kol)
  • 09/2011 2nd Fieldtrip: Tibet (Tangra Yumco & Taro Co)
  • 08-09/2010 1st Fieldtrip: Tibet 2010

(Transectstudy - Kunggyu Co, Lungmu Co, Sumxi Co, Balong Co & Taro Co)

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