Dr James Bendle MSc, PhD

Dr James Bendle

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Reader (Associate Professor) in Organic Geochemistry
Director of the Central England NERC Training Alliance (CENTA)

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

60 second video iconJames is a paleoclimatologist, specialising in molecular organic geochemistry (e.g. molecular climatology). His research is focused on Cenozoic and Holocene climate evolution, high-resolution palaeoclimatology and biomarker proxy development.

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2010 – PGCHE, University of Glasgow
2003 – PhD, University of Durham
1999 – MSc in Quaternary Science, RHUL and UCL (University of London)


Currently a significant portion of James’ time is dedicated to his role as the Director of the NERC CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Funded by a £5,060,000 block grant from NERC, CENTA stands for Central England NERC Training Alliance, a consortium of 5 research-intensive universities and 3 NERC research institutes that are working together to provide excellence in doctoral research training (www.centa.org.uk). 

James has generated >£939,000 in external research income from UK and international funding councils, agencies and charities, published numerous articles, designed and taught new post-graduate and undergraduate field and classroom based courses. He has participated on five oceanographic research cruises and six palaeoclimatological field campaigns in Scotland, Japan and China (leading three).

Documentary on IODP Expedition 318, Wilkes Land Glacial History, 2010. 

  • 2012 - Joined Birmingham, School of GEES, as a Reader in October 2012.
  • 2011 (June - December) - JSPS Invitation Fellowship (Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science) with Dr O. Seki, and Prof. K. Kawamura at ILTS, Hokkaido University, Japan. , and Prof. K. Kawamura at ILTS, Hokkaido University, Japan. 
  • 2007 – 2012: SAGES lecturer and Group Leader of G-MOL, Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow. 

The RRS James Clark Ross north of Svalbard in the Arctic. James was a participant on the 2008 'ICE CHASER' Arctic research expedition. 

  • 2005 – 2007: PDRA Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol (PIs: Dr Richard Pancost, Dr Mark Maslin).
  • 2003 – 2005: Royal Society Fellowship Tenable in a Foreign Country – in partnership with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Hosted by the laboratory of Professor Kimitaka, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.
  • 1999-2003: PhD, Durham University, supervised by Dr Antoni Rosell-Mele (now at ICTA, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona). 

East Greenland Current, ARCICE cruise, RRS James Clark Ross, 2000

  • 1999: MSc in Quaternary Science, from Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) and University College London (UCL). Dissertation supervised my Professor Mark Maslin (UCL).


James' teaching spans several modules and programmes of study in the following areas:

  • Palaeoclimates
  • Advances in earth science
  • Advanced field skills
  • Residential field courses
  • Geology and physical geography/palaeobiology projects, including field supervision
  • Topics in geology
  • Advanced projects
  • Earth systems and sediment rocks
  • Earth and ecological systems
  • Earth history

Postgraduate supervision

James is part of a team of academics at Birmingham who jointly supervise a thriving community of palaeoclimatology focused PhD students including: Kate Newton (NERC – UK), Marcelo Mota (Brazil), Frederike Wittkopp (Germany), Azrin Azmi (Mayalasia), Dana Noory (Iraq), Canfa Wang (CSC – China), Carlos D’Apolito Junior (Brazil). He externally co-supervises: Bella Duncan (VUW, New Zealand), Anouk Klootwijk (The OU, NERC- EU student), Jill McColl (NERC -Glasgow). 

Whilst at Glasgow he was primary supervisor for 3 PhD students (Heiko Moossen, Paula Sankelo, Jill McColl), and primary UK supervisor for one Chinese CSC PhD student (Huiling Sun), who spent two years in the UK. 

Working together with Dr Heiko Moossen (and others) James is committed to training and developing talented undergraduates as researchers. This is achieved through final year laboratory projects and externally funded bursaries (12 so far, from The Geological Society, Nuffield Foundation, NERC-IODP, external partners) to participate on fieldwork and undertake laboratory assistantships.


Priority research themes: 

  • Greenhouse worlds, future analogues, Cenozoic and Holocene climate evolution.
  • High-resolution palaeoclimatology.
  • Biomarker proxy development. 

We use molecular biomarkers (in red) to study modern and past environmental processes and conditions:

Organic carbon compounds are ubiquitous, abundant and sometimes overlooked components of oceans, lakes, sedimentary rocks and even atmospheric aerosols. Directly, or indirectly, they fuel all biogeochemical processes. As a paleoclimatologist, trained in molecular biogeochemistry, James is interested in the source, structure, and distribution of such naturally occurring compounds (biomarkers). His research is focused on the development of biomarker proxies of environmental parameters (e.g. terrestrial and sea-surface temperatures, relative humidity, C3/C4 plant distribution, wetland extent) and their application to answer questions about past climatic and environmental changes. Below is a table giving some examples of high utility biomarker applications, as applied to palaeoclimatology:

high utility biomarker applications

Other activities

  • Director of the NERC CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership (2013- )
  • Senior DR tutor for school of GEES and Director of International Recruitment (2012-2013)
  • Membership of the American Geophysical Union, Quaternary Research Association,
  • Reviewer for various journals and funding agencies, including: NERC (the UK Natural Environmental Research Council), the NSF, the Research Grant Council (RGC) of Hong Kong and the NWO (the Dutch research council), Nature, PNAS, Geology, Paleoceanography, Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, Geophysical Research Letters, Paleogeography Paleoclimatology and Paleoecology, Quaternary Science Reviews, Special Publications of The Geological Society of London.


Submitted and in Review:

Wang, C., Bendle, J., Yang, Y., Xie, S., Novel terrestrial proxies for pH and temperature based on bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids. In review in Organic Geochemistry

Published and Accepted:

Moossen, H., Bendle, J.,  Seki, O., Quillmann, U., Kawamura, K., New insights into Holocene climate evolution from high-resolution terrestrial and marine biomarker records from Northwest Iceland, 2015, Accepted in Quaternary Science Reviews.

Rubino, M., D’Onofrio, A., Seki, O. Bendle, J.A., 2015, Ice-core records of biomass burning. The Anthropocene Review, 1-23, doi: 10.1177/2053019615605117.

Bendle, J., Moossen, H., (2015), Data Report: No alkenones detected by shore-based GC-MS analyses of Eocene samples from Site U1356. In: IODP Preliminary Reports, 318, doi:10.2204/iodp.pr.318.2010.

Seki, O., Kawamura, K., Bendle, J. A. P., Izawa, Y., Suzuki, I., Shiraiwa, T. & Fujii, Y. 2015 Carbonaceous aerosol tracers in ice-cores record multi-decadal climate oscillations. Nature Scientific Reports. 5, p. 14450

Patterson, M. O.; McKay, R.; Naish, T.; Escutia, C.; Jimenez-Espejo, F.J.; Raymo, M.E.; Meyers, S.R.; Tauxe, L.; Brinkhuis, H.; Klaus, A.; Fehr, A.; Bendle, J.A.P.; Bijl, P. K.; Bohaty, S. M.; Carr, S.A.; Dunbar, R.B.; Flores, J. A.; Gonzalez, J. J.; Hayden, T. G.; Iwai, M.; Katsuki, K.; Kong, G. S.; Nakai, M.; Olney, M.P..; Passchier, S.; Pekar, S.F.; Pross, J.; Riesselman, C.R.; Röhl, U.; Sakai, T.; Shrivastava, P. K.; Stickley, C. E.; Sugasaki, S.; Tuo, S.; van de Flierdt, T.; Welsh, K.; Williams T.; Yamane. M.; 2014, Orbital forcing of the East Antarctic ice sheet during the Pliocene and Early Pleistocene, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2273.

Seki, O., Bendle, J., Harada, N., Kobayashi, M., Sawada, K., Inglis, G., Nagao, G., Sakamoto, T., 2014, Assessment and calibration of TEX86 paleothermometry in the subpolar North Pacific region, Progress in Oceanography, 126, pp 254–266

Seki, O., Mikamib, Y., Nagaoc, S., Bendle, J.A., Nakatsuka, T., Kime, V.I., Shesterkin, V.P., Makinov, A.N., Fukushima, M., Moossen, H.M., Schouten, S., 2014, Lignin phenols and BIT index distributions in the Amur River and the Sea of Okhotsk: Implications for the source and transport of particulate terrestrial organic matter to the ocean, Progress in Oceanography, 126, pp146–154. 

Heiko Moossen; Richard Abell; Ursula Quillmann; James Bendle (2013). Assessing Holocene changes in marine productivity and terrestrial organic carbon inputs into an Icelandic fjord: Application of molecular and bulk organic proxies. The Holocene, 0(0) pp1-12, 2013, DOI: 10.1177/095968361350536.

Carys P. Cook, Tina van de Flierdt, Trevor Williams, Sidney R. Hemming, Masao Iwai, Munemasa Kobayashi, Francisco J. Jimenez-Espejo, Carlota Escutia, Jhon Jairo González, Boo-Keun Khim, Robert M. McKay, Sandra Passchier, Steven M. Bohaty, Christina R. Riesselman, Lisa Tauxe, Saiko Sugisaki, Alberto Lopez Galindo, Molly O. Patterson, Francesca Sangiorgi, Elizabeth L. Pierce, Henk Brinkhuis,  Adam Klaus, Annick Fehr,  James A. P. Bendle, Peter K. Bijl et al., 2013, Dynamic behaviour of the East Antarctic ice sheet during Pliocene warmth, Nature Geoscience (2013) doi:10.1038/ngeo1889.

Peter K. Bijl, James A. Bendle, Steven M. Bohaty, Jörg Pross, Stefan Schouten, Lisa Tauxe6, Catherine E. Stickley, Ursula Röhl, Appy Sluijs Matthew Olney, Henk Brinkhuis, Carlota Escutia and Expedition 318 Scientists, 2013, Onset of Eocene Antarctic cooling linked to early opening of the Tasmanian Gateway, PNAS 29, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1220872110

Houben, A.J.P., Bijl, P.K., Pross, J., Bohaty, S.M., Passchier, S., Stickley, C.E., Roehl, U., Sugisaki, S., Tauxe, L., van de Flierdt, T., Olney, M., Sangiorgi, F., Sluijs, A., Escutia, C., Brinkhuis, H., Expedition 318 Scientists, (2013). Reorganization of Southern Ocean Plankton Ecosystem at the Onset of Antarctic Glaciation. Science 340, 341-344.

Paolo Stocchi, Carlota Escutia, Alexander J. P. Houben, Bert L. A. Vermeersen, Peter K. Bijl, Henk Brinkhuis, Robert M. DeConto, Simone Galeotti, Sandra Passchier, David Pollard, Henk Brinkhuis, Carlota Escutia, Adam Klaus, Annick Fehr, Trevor Williams, James A. P. Bendle, Peter K. Bijl, Steven M. Bohaty, Stephanie A. Carr, Robert B. Dunbar, Jose Abel Flores, Jhon J. Gonzàlez, Travis G. Hayden, Masao Iwai,Francisco J. Jimenez-Espejo et al. (2013), Relative sea-level rise around East Antarctica during Oligocene glaciation. Nature Geoscience 6, 380-384.

Jörg Pross, Lineth Contreras, Peter K. Bijl, David R. Greenwood, Steven M. Bohaty, James A. Bendle, Ursula Röhl, Lisa Tauxe, J. Ian Raine, Claire E. Huck, Tina van de Flierdt, Stewart S.R. Jamieson, Catherine E. Stickley, Bas van de Schootbrugge, Stefan Schouten, Carlota Escutia, Henk Brinkhuis and IODP Expedition 318 Scientists., (2012), Persistent near-tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch. Nature 488, 73–77 doi:10.1038/nature11300.

Das, S.K., Bendle, J.A., Routh, J., (2012), Evaluating branched tetraether lipid-based paleotemperature proxies in an urban, hyper-eutrophic and polluted lake in South Africa. In Press in Organic Geochemistry.

L. Tauxe, C. E. Stickley, S. Sugisaki, P. K. Bijl, S. M. Bohaty, H. Brinkhuis, C. Escutia, J. A. Flores, A. J. P. Houben, M. Iwai, F. Jiménez-Espejo, R. McKay, S. Passchier, J. Pross, C. R. Riesselman, U. Röhl, F. Sangiorgi, K. Welsh, A. Klaus, A. Fehr, J.A.P. Bendle, R. Dunbar, J. Gonzàlez, T. Hayden, K. Katsuki, M. P. Olney, S. F. Pekar, P. K. Shrivastava, T. van de Flierdt, T. Williams, and M. Yamane, (2012), Integrated biomagnetostratigraphy of the Wilkes Land Margin for reconstruction of 53 Ma of Antarctic Margin paleoceanography: New results from IODP Expedition 318. Paleoceanography.Vol. 27, PA2214, 19 PP., 2012, doi:10.1029/2012PA002308.

Susanne Fietz, Carme Hugueta, James Bendle, Marina Escala, Robert Jamieson, Christopher Gallacher, Lydie Herfort, Alfredo Martínez-Garcia, Erin L. McClymont, Vicky L. Peck, Fredrick G. Prahl, Sergio Rossi, Gemma Rueda, Anna Sanson-Barrera, Antoni Rosell-Melé., (2012), Co-variation of crenarchaeol and branched GDGTs in globally distributed marine and freshwater sedimentary archives. Global Planetary Changes, Volumes 92–93, July 2012, Pages 275–285.

Maslin, M., Ettwein, V.J., Boot, C.S., Bendle, J., Pancost, R.D., (2012), Amazon Fan Biomarker evidence against the Pleistocene Rainforest Refuge Hypothesis? Volume 27, Issue 5, pages 451–460, July 2012. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1567

Harada, N., Satoa, M., Seki, O., Timmermann, A., Moossen, H., Bendle, J., Nakamura, Y., Kimoto, K., Okazakia, Y., Nagashima, K., Gorbarenko, S.A., Ijiri, A., Nakatsuka, T., Menviel, L., Chikamotoa, M.O., Abe-Ouchi, A., Schouten, S. (2012), Sea surface and subsurface temperature changes in the Okhotsk Sea and adjacent North Pacific during the Last Glacial Maximum and deglaciation, Deep Sea Research II: Tropical Studies in Oceanography, 61-64 . In Press, pp. 93-105. ISSN 0967-0645 (doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2011.12.007.

Bendle, J.A., 2011, News & Views, Palaeoclimatology: Core data from the Antarctic margin. Nature, 470, pp 181-182. doi:10.1038/470181a

Dickson, A.J., Leng, M.J., Maslin, M.A., Sloane, H.J., Green, J., Bendle, J.A, McClymont, E.L., Pancost, R.D., 2010; Atlantic overturning circulation and Agulhas leakage influences on southeast Atlantic upper ocean hydrography during marine isotope stage 11, Palaeoceanography, 25, PA3208 doi:10.1029/2009PA001830 >>

Expedition 318 Scientists, 2010; Wilkes Land Glacial History: Cenozoic East Antarctic Ice Sheet evolution from Wilkes Land margin sediments. IODP Preliminary Reports, 318. doi:10.2204/iodp.pr.318.2010  >>

Bendle, J.A.; Pancost, R.D.; Weijers, J.W.; Maslin, M.A.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Schouten, S.; Hopmans, E.C.; Boot, C.; 2010, Major changes in Last Glacial and Holocene Terrestrial temperatures and sources of organic carbon recorded in the Amazon fan by the MBT/CBT continental palaeothermometer. Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems (G-cubed). 11, Q12007. doi:10.1029/2010GC003308.

Bendle, J.A., Rosell-Melé, A., Cox, N.J., 2009, Shennan, I., Alkenones, alkenoates and organic matter in coastal environments of N.W. Scotland: assessment of potential application for sea-level reconstruction., Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems (G-cubed), 10, Q12003, doi:10.1029/2009GC002603.

Dickson, A.J., Beer, C.J., Dempsey, C., Maslin, M.A., Bendle, J.A., McClymont, E.L., Pancost, R.D., (2009) Oceanic Forcing of the Marine Isotope Stage 11 interglacial, Nature Geoscience, 2, 428-433 (24 May 2009) doi:10.1038/ngeo527

Bendle, J.A.; Kawamura, K.; Yamazaki, K.; Niwai, T., 2007, Latitudinal distribution of terrestrial lipid biomarkers and n-alkane compound specific stable carbon isotope ratios in the atmosphere over the western Pacific and Southern Ocean, Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, 71, pp5934-5955, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2007.09.029

Bendle, J.A. & Rosell-Melé, A., 2007, High resolution alkenone sea surface temperature variability on the North Icelandic Shelf: implications for Nordic Seas palaeoclimatic development during the Holocene, The Holocene, 17 (1), pp 19-24.

Okuzawa, K. Mochida, M., Bendle, J., Wang, H. and Kawamura, K. 2007. Diurnal variation of semi-volatile dicarbonyls and hydroxycarbonyls in the urban atmosphere. Geochemistry, 41, 125-134.

Bendle, J.A. & Rosell-Melé, A., 2007, High resolution alkenone sea surface temperature variability on the North Icelandic Shelf: implications for Nordic Seas palaeoclimatic development during the Holocene, The Holocene, 17 (1), pp 19-24.

Bendle, J.A.; Kawamura, K. & Yamazaki, K., 2006, Seasonal changes in stable carbon isotopic composition of n-alkanes in the marine aerosols from the western North Pacific: implications for the source and atmospheric transport, Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, 70 (1), pp 13-26.

Bendle, J.A.; Rosell-Melé, A. & Ziveri, P., 2005, Variability of unusual distributions of alkenones in surface waters of the Nordic Seas, Palaeoceanography, Vol. 20, No. 2, PA2001, doi:10.1029/2004PA001025.

Bendle, J.A., & Rosell-Melé, A., 2004, Distributions of UK37 and UK37' in the surface waters and sediments of the Nordic Seas: implications for palaeoceanography, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 5 (11), doi:10.1029/2004GC000741.