Detlef Stammer received a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the Institute of Oceanography, Kiel. In 1993 he took a postdoctoral position at MIT, where he subsequently became Principal Research Scientist. In 1999 he was appointed to a tenured faculty position at Scripps Institut of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He remained in America until 2003, when he returned to Germany to take up a Professorship at the Institute for Oceanography at the University of Hamburg.
He is now Professor, Head of Remote Sensing and Assimilation and Director of the Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability at the University of Hamburg, Germany. His research interests include the role of the ocean in climate variability, remote sensing and data assimilation and sea level change. Currently he is chair of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme.