Günther Prasicek

Research statement

My research focuses on glacial landscape evolution and on the interactions of climate and tectonics that (re)shaped mountain landscapes during the Pleistocene glaciation cycles. I aim to test concepts and theory of landscape evolution by comparing the shape of predicted terrain to real-world topography. Recent work includes an assessment of the persistence of glacial imprint in mountain ranges and the theoretical description of glacial equilibrium landscapes.

Tectonic Modulation of Climate Cycle Impact on Orogens

The interactions between tectonics, climate and erosion have been subject of active debate for decades. Peaks of erosion during the transitions between glacial and interglacial periods inferred from the sedimentary record suggest that, in addition to global cooling, oscillating climate conditions have promoted the worldwide increase in erosion during the Pleistocene epoch. Mechanisms such as postglacial sediment evacuation and paraglacial effects or increased erosion due to climate-induced imbalances between landscape shape and erosional processes have been proposed to explain these observations, but a physically-based understanding of the related process interactions is still incomplete. Furthermore, recent findings suggest that rock uplift rates may have played an important role in modulating the pace of transitions between glacial and fluvial landscapes and hence overall Pleistocene erosion. This implies that tectonics influences the impact of periodic climate variations on orogen evolution.

In this project we will establish a process-based understanding of the empirically documented influence of tectonic forcing on orogenic erosion and relief production in a cold, oscillating climate using a landscape evolution model and geomorphometric analyses constrained by thermochronometric dating. We propose to look at the coupled system of tectonics, climate and erosion by examining the processes that control the longevity of topographic relief, which is the expression of a dynamical equilibrium.

Short biography

I earned my master’s degree from the University of Vienna and did my PhD in Geoinformatics at the University of Salzburg. During my PhD studies I spent 6 months at the University of Washington in Seattle. I focused on the morphometric description and automated detection of glacially sculpted topography and on the analysis of the distribution of such terrain. After completion of my PhD I worked as a postdoc in the FutureLakes project at the University of Salzburg. I am looking very much forward to join ICE in April 2017.

List of publications

Robl, J., Heberer, B., Prasicek, G., Neubauer, F., Hergarten, S. (2017). The topography of a continental indenter: The interplay between crustal deformation, erosion and base level changes in the easter Southern Alps. Journal of Geophysical Research.

Niederheiser, R., MokroA, M., Lange, J., Petschko, H., Prasicek, G., Elberink, S.O., 2016. Deriving 3D point clouds from terrestrial photographs – Comparison of different sensors and software, International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences – ISPRS Archives, pp. 685-692

Prasicek, G., Larsen, I. J. & D. R. Montgomery (2015). Tectonic control on the persistence of glacially-sculpted topography. Nature Communications 6.

Robl, J., Prasicek, G., Hergarten, S. & B. Salcher (2015). Glacial cirques and the relationship between equilibrium line altitudes and mountain range height: COMMENT. Geology 43, e365.

Robl, J., Prasicek, G., Hergarten, S. & K. Stüwe (2015). Alpine topography in the light of tectonic uplift and glaciation. Global and Planetary Change, 127(0), 34-49.

Prasicek, G., Otto J.-C. , Montgomery D. R. & L. Schrott (2014), Multi-scale curvature for automated identification of glaciated mountain landscapes. Geomorphology, 209 (0), 53-65.

Prasicek, G., Otto, J.-C., Montgomery D. R. & L. Schrott (2014). Glaciated valleys in Europe and western Asia. Journal of Maps, 1-10.