We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of Earth Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr James Baldini

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Earth Sciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42334
Room number: Rm 315
Department Rep (Earth Sciences) in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Contact Dr James Baldini (email at


2009 – present  — Director of the Sir Kingsley Dunham Palaeoclimate Laboratory , University of Durham

Sir Kingsley Dunham Palaeoclimate Laboratory Banner

2015 – Present — Associate Professor (Reader), University of Durham, UK

2010 – 2015 — Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer), University of Durham, UK

2006 – 2010 — Assistant Professor (Lecturer), University of Durham, UK

2004 – 2006  — Postdoctoral Research Fellow , University College Dublin, Ireland

2002 – 2003  — Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Bristol, UK

2000  2004  — PhD., University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Career Research Highlights

My research applies and develops high-resolution techniques to investigate a variety of scientific problems, and also utilises environmental monitoring and modelling to better understand the processes leading to climate proxy emplacement. A primary research interest is developing and understanding climate records created using stalagmites. I am currently the PI on the large ERC-funded HURRICANE Project, which aims to reconstruct tropical storm landfalls around the Caribbean region using stalagmites. Several current collaborations also involve archaeology, and a recent research highlight was working with a large multidisciplinary group to link cultural shifts that occurred during the Classic Maya Collapse to Central American climate variability. I am also involved in research reconstructing the North Atlantic Oscillation using stalagmites from Poland and Germany, modelling karst hydrology and the emplacement of climate signals into stalagmites, and establishing how oxygen isotopes in rainfall are affected by variability in major modes of atmospheric circulation. Related to my work with cave deposits, I have worked extensively on carbon dioxide in cave atmospheres and its effect on stalagmite climate proxies, and plan to continue this research into the future.

Invited Talks

2014 — Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, Germany.

2014  — University of Northumbria, UK.

2013  — Durham/Newcastle Postgraduate Conference Keynote

2012  — Josephine Butler College, Durham University, UK.

2012  — Department of Geography, Durham University, UK.

2010  — RWTH Aachen, Germany.

2010  — The Open University, UK.

2010  — University of Liverpool, UK.

2008  — Natural History Society of Northumbria, UK.

2007  — Arthur Holmes Geological Society, Durham University, UK.

2004  — Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

2004  — University College Dublin, Ireland

Recent and Current Grants

2016 Long-Term Human-Environmental Interaction In a Lowland Tropic Setting. NSF Collaborative Grant (Co-I; $156,157).

2015 CoChange: Coastal societies in a changing world: A diachronic and comparative approach to the Prehistory of SW Europe from the late Palaeolithic to the Neolithic. Spanish Government grant (Co-I; 220,000 euro)

2014  SCENT: Controls on Soil Carbon Export revealed by Novel Tracers on multiple timescales. NERC grant (Co-I; £442,072)

2009  — HURRICANE: Past hurricane activity reconstructed using cave deposits. ERC Starting Grant (PI; 1.4 million euro)

2009  — ONE Northeast MSc studentships (PI; £32,000)

2008  — NERC U-series facility grant (Co-I; £13,000)

2008  — Co-host to Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow (£150,000)

2006  — Awarded a European Synchrotron Facility grant to analyse the trace elemental geochemistry of stalagmites at an extremely high spatial resolution (£50,000)

2002 — Marie Curie Fellowship, Bristol University (£75,000)

Research Groups

Department of Earth Sciences

Research Projects

Department of Earth Sciences



Selected Publications

Journal Article

  • Baldini, James U.L. , Brown, Richard J. & Mawdsley, Natasha (2018). Evaluating the link between the sulphur-rich Laacher See volcanic eruption and the Younger Dryas climate anomaly. Climate of the Past 14(7): 969-990.
  • Baldini, James U.L., Bertram, Rachel A. & Ridley, Harriet E. (2018). Ground air: A first approximation of the Earth's second largest reservoir of carbon dioxide gas. Science of the Total Environment 616-617: 1007-1013.
  • Wynn, Peter M., Fairchild, Ian.J., Borsato, Andrea, Spötl, Christoph, Hartland, Adam, Baker, Andy, Frisia, Silvia & Baldini, James (2018). Sulphate partitioning into calcite: Experimental verification of pH control and application to seasonality in speleothems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 226: 69-83.
  • Smirnov, D. A. Breitenbach, S. F. M. Feulner, G., Lechleitner, F.A., Prufer, K.M., Baldini, J.U.L., Marwan, N. & Kurths, J. (2017). A regime shift in the Sun-Climate connection with the end of the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Scientific Reports 7: 11131.
  • Lechleitner, F.A., Dittmar, T., Baldini, J.U.L., Prufer, K.M.P. & Eglinton, T.I. (2017). Molecular signatures of dissolved organic matter in a tropical karst system. Organic Geochemistry 113: 141-149.
  • Lechleitner, Franziska A., Breitenbach, Sebastian F. M., Rehfeld, Kira, Ridley, Harriet E., Asmerom, Yemane, Prufer, Keith M., Marwan, Norbert, Goswami, Bedartha, Kennett, Douglas J., Aquino, Valorie V., Polyak, Victor, Haug, Gerald H., Eglinton, Timothy I. & Baldini, James U. L (2017). Tropical rainfall over the last two millennia: evidence for a low-latitude hydrologic seesaw. Scientific Reports 7: 45809.
  • Lechleitner, F.A., Fohlmeister, J., McIntyre, C., Baldini, L.M., Jamieson, R.A., Hercman, H., Gąsiorowski, M., Pawlak, J., Stefaniak, K., Socha, P., Eglinton, T.I. & Baldini, J.U.L. (2016). A novel approach for construction of radiocarbon-based chronologies for speleothems. Quaternary Geochronology 35: 54-66.
  • Wassenburg, J.A., Scholz, D., Jochumb, K.P., Cheng, H., Ostere, J., Immenhauser, A., Richter, D.K., Häger, T., Jamieson, R.A., Baldini, J.U.L., Hoffmann, D. & Breitenbach, S.F.M. (2016). Determination of aragonite trace element distribution coefficients from speleothem calcite–aragonite transitions. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 190: 347-367.
  • Lechleitner, F.A., Baldini, J.U.L., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Fohlmeister, J., McIntyre, C., Goswani, B., Jamieson, R.A., van der Voort, T.S., Prufer, K., Marwan, N., Culleton, B.J., Kennett, D.J., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V. & Eglinton, T.I. (2016). Hydrological and climatological controls on radiocarbon concentrations in a tropical stalagmite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 194: 233-252.
  • Jamieson, R.A., Baldini, J.U.L., Brett, M.J., Taylor, J., Ridley, H.E., Ottley, C.J., Prufer, K.M., Wassenburg, J.A., Scholz, D. & Breitenbach, S.F.M. (2016). Intra- and inter-annual uranium concentration variability in a Belizean stalagmite controlled by prior aragonite precipitation: A new tool for reconstructing hydro-climate using aragonitic speleothems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 190: 332-346.
  • Baldini L.M., Baldini J.U.L., McElwaine J., Frappier A.B., Asmerom Y., Liu K.B., Prufer K., Ridley H.E., Polyak V., Kennett D.J., Macpherson C.G., Aquino V.V., Awe J. & Breitenbach, S.F.M. (2016). Persistent northward North Atlantic tropical cyclone track migration over the past five centuries. Scientific Reports 6: 37522.
  • Ridley, H.E., Asmerom, Y., Baldini, J.U.L., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Aquino, V.V., Prufer, K.M., Culleton, B.J., Polyak, V., Lechleitner, F.A., Kennett, D.J., Zhang, M., Marwan, N., Macpherson, C.G., Baldini, L.M., Xiao, T., Peterkin, J.L., Awe, J. & Haug, G.H. (2015). Aerosol forcing of the position of the intertropical convergence zone since AD1550. Nature Geoscience 8(3): 195-200.
  • Baldini, L. M., McDermott, Frank, Baldini, J. U. L., Arias, P., Cueto, M., Fairchild, I. J., Hoffmann, D. L., Mattey, D. P., Müller, W., Nita, D. C., Ontañón, R., Garciá-Moncó, C. & Richards, D. A. (2015). Regional temperature, atmospheric circulation, and sea-ice variability within the Younger Dryas Event constrained using a speleothem from northern Iberia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 419: 101-110.
  • Baker, A.J., Sodemann, H., Baldini, J. U. L., Breitenbach, S. F. M., Johnson, K. R., van Hunen, J. & Pingzhong, Z. (2015). Seasonality of westerly moisture transport in the East Asian Summer Monsoon and its implications for interpreting precipitation δ18O. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 120(12): 5850-5862.
  • Jamieson, R.A., Baldini, J.U.L., Frappier, A.B. & Müller, W. (2015). Volcanic ash fall events identified using principal component analysis of a high-resolution speleothem trace element dataset. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 426: 36-45.
  • Baldini, J.U.L., Brown, R.J. & McElwaine, J.N. (2015). Was millennial scale climate change during the Last Glacial triggered by explosive volcanism? Scientific Reports 5: 17442.
  • Brett, M.J., Baldini, J.U.L. & Gröcke, D.R. (2014). Environmental controls on stable isotope ratios in New Zealand Podocarpaceae: implications for palaeoclimate reconstruction. Global and Planetary Change 120: 38-45.
  • Baker, A.J., Mattey, D.P. & Baldini, J.U.L. (2014). Reconstructing modern stalagmite growth from cave monitoring, local meteorology, and experimental measurements of dripwater films. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 392: 239-249.
  • Breitenbach, S.F.M., Rehfeld, K., Goswami, B., Baldini, J.U.L., Ridley, H.E., Kennett, D., Prufer, K., Aquino, V.V., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V.J., Cheng, H., Kurths, J. & Marwan, N. (2012). COnstructing Proxy-Record Age models (COPRA). Climate of the Past 8(5): 1765-1779.
  • Kennett, D.J., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Aquino, V.V., Asmerom, Y., Awe, J., Baldini, J.U.L., Bartlein, P., Culleton, B.J., Ebert, C., Jazwa, C., Macri, M.J., Marwan, N., Polyak, V., Prufer, K.M., Ridley, H.E., Sodemann, H., Winterhalder, B. & Haug, G.H. (2012). Development and disintegration of Maya political systems in response to climate change. Science 338(6108): 788-791.
  • Baldini, J.U.L., McDermott, F., Baldini, L.M., Ottley, C.J., Linge, K.L., Clipson, N. & Jarvis, K.E. (2012). Identifying short-term and seasonal trends in cave drip water trace element concentrations based on a daily-scale automatically collected drip water dataset. Chemical Geology 330-331: 1-16.
  • Sherwin, C.M. & Baldini, J.U.L. (2011). Cave air and hydrological controls on prior calcite precipitation and stalagmite growth rates: Implications for palaeoclimate reconstructions using speleothems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75(14): 3915-3929.
  • Baldini, L., McDermott, F., Baldini, J.U.L., Fischer, M.J. & Möllhoff, M. (2010). An investigation of the controls on Irish precipitation δ18O values on monthly and event timescales. Climate Dynamics 35(6): 977-993.
  • Armstrong, H.A., Baldini, J., Challands, T.J., Gröcke, D.R. & Owen, A.W. (2009). Response of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone to Southern Hemisphere cooling during Upper Ordovician glaciation. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 284(3-4): 227-236.
  • Wynn, P.M., Fairchild, I.J., Baker, A., Baldini, J.U.L. & McDermott, F. (2008). Isotopic archives of sulphate in speleothems. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72(10): 2465-2477.
  • Baldini, L.M., McDermott, F. & Foley, A. (2008). Spatial variability in the European winter precipitation d18O-NAO relationship: Implications for reconstructing NAO-mode climate variability in the Holocene. Geophysical Research Letters 35(4): L04709.
  • Baldini, J.U.L. , McDermott, F. Hoffmann, D.L. Richards, D.A. & Clipson, N. (2008). Very high-frequency and seasonal cave atmosphere PCO2 variability: Implications for stalagmite growth and oxygen isotope-based paleoclimate records. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 272(1-2): 118-129.
  • Baldini, L. M., Walker, S.E., Railsback, L. B., Baldini, J.U.L. & Crowe, D.E. (2007). Isotopic ecology of the modern land snail Cerion, San Salvador, Bahamas: Preliminary advances toward establishing a low-latitude island paleoenvironmental proxy. Palaios 22(2): 174-187.
  • Baldini, J.U.L., Baldini, L.M., McDermott, F. & Clipson, N. (2006). Carbon dioxide sources, sinks, and spatial variability in shallow temperate zone caves: Evidence from Ballynamintra Cave, Ireland. Journal Of Cave And Karst Studies 68(1): 4-11.
  • Baldini, J.U.L., McDermott, F. & Fairchild, I.J. (2006). Spatial variability in cave drip water hydrochemistry: Implications for stalagmite paleoclimate records. Chemical Geology 235(3-4): 390-404.
  • Baldini, J.U.L., McDermott, F, Baker, A., Baldini, L.M., Mattey, D.P. & Railsback, L.B. (2005). Biomass effects on stalagmite growth and isotope ratios: A 20th century analogue from Wiltshire, England. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 240(2): 486-494.
  • Baldini, J.U.L., McDermott, F. & Fairchild, I.J. (2002). Structure of the 8200-year cold event revealed by a speleothem trace element record. Science 296(5576): 2203-2206.

Show all publications