Dr James Bendle MSc, PhD

Dr James Bendle

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Reader (Associate Professor) in Organic Geochemistry

Contact details

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

James is an organic geochemist specialising in paleoclimatology. His research develops and uses molecular tools to reconstruct past environmental conditions and addresses two key themes: (1) Developing new quantitative paleoclimate proxies; (2) Holocene and Cenozoic climate evolution.

For more information visit my personal website:


Orcid ID: 0000-0002-6826-8658


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


- Current Position

2012 – Present:  Reader in Organic Geochemistry, School of Geography, Environmental and Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham.


- Previous Positions

2007 – 2012:  SAGES Lectureship (Assist. Prof.) (SAGES: Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, the Environment and Society), School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow.  

2005-2007:  Post Doctoral Research Associate, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, UK.

2003-2005:  Research Fellow Geochemistry Group, Institute of Low Temperature Science, Japan.


- Honorary Positions:

2014 – Present: Adjunct Professorship at the Antarctic Research Center, Victoria U. of Wellington, NZ.


I undertake ca. 80 hours of campus-based and 2 to 3 wks (50-150 hrs) of field based teaching per year.  Including:

  • Palaeoclimates (3rd year UG and M-level)
  • Advanced Field Skills II: Assynt, NW Scotland Field course (2nd year UG)
  • Geog/Geol Final year projects (3rd year)
  • Research Skills (1st Year)
  • Advanced Projects (MSci)
  • Earth Systems (1st year)

Postgraduate supervision

James Bendle currently supervises PhD projects on two broad themes: (1) Developing new paleoclimate proxies; (2) Holocene and Cenozoic climate evolution.
He welcomes applications from potential doctoral researchers in all his areas of interest.


James in an organic geochemist specialising in paleoclimatology. His research develops and uses molecular tools to reconstruct past environmental conditions and addresses two key themes: (1) Developing new quantitative paleoclimate proxies; (2) Holocene and Cenozoic climate evolution. He  has published >45 peer-reviewed papers since 2004 in ISI-listed journals or special book volumes, with an increasing number of papers and citations per year. Publications have been in leading multidisciplinary journals (Nature, Nature Geoscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), leading general geoscience journals (e.g. Earth and Planetary Science Letters), and the leading specialist journals (all Q1 journals) in paleoclimatology and geochemistry (e.g. Quaternary Science Reviews, Geochemica Cosmochemica Acta, Organic Geochemistry). In recent years, he has participated in major technical breakthroughs and led the publishing of the first biomarker based paleoclimate reconstructions from stalagmites and ice-cores. James has a unique breadth of experience and is the first organic geochemist to have published paleoclimate reconstructions from all the main paleoclimate archives (marine & lake cores, ice-cores, speleothems).


Within theme (1) James is working across disciplines with soil microbiologists and ecologists on the first systematic global surveys of 3-OH-FA biomarkers - and the taxonomy of their gram-negative bacterial precursors, in soils, lakes and marine sediments. These, hitherto overlooked, bacterial membrane lipids have widespread applicability and will open up new avenues of molecular and isotopic research in paleoclimatology (e.g.: Wang, Bendle et al., 2016, 2018, 2019; Yang et al., 2020). These baseline studies on 3-OH-FAs from theme (1) are directly applicable to major research challenges within theme (2) – especially Holocene climate evolution and reconstructing monsoonal climate states in Asia. Within research theme (2) I work closely with many colleagues in the Earth Sciences theme in GEES and the international community.

Recent and forthcoming highlights in theme (2) include a number of firsts: the first biomarker based paleoclimate time-series from stalagmites (Wang, Bendle et al., 2018, 2019) the development of the first application of modern machine-learning tools to improve estimations and the representation of uncertainty for biomarker based proxies (Eley et al., 2020)); the first application of biomarker d2H to reconstruct meltwater from Antarctica (Ashley, et al., 2020)  and multi-proxy CO2 reconstructions of the early Eocene greenhouse.

Other activities

  • Doctorial Researcher (DR) tutor for school of Earth Sciences (currently)
  • Director of the NERC CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership (2013-2019)
  • 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.


Recent publications


De Lira Mota, M, Dunkley Jones, T, Sulaiman, N, Edgar, K, Yamaguchi, T, Leng, MJ, Adloff, M, Greene, S, Norris, R, Warren, B, Duffy, G, Farrant, J, Murayama, M, Hall, J & Bendle, J 2023, 'Multi-proxy evidence for sea level fall at the onset of the Eocene-Oligocene transition', Nature Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 4748. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-39806-6

Duncan, B, McKay, R, Levy, R, Naish, T, Prebble, JG, Sangiorgi, F, Krishnan, S, Hoem, F, Clowes, C, Jones, TD, Gasson, E, Kraus, C, Kulhanek, DK, Meyers, SR, Moossen, H, Warren, C, Willmott, V, Ventura, GT & Bendle, J 2022, 'Climatic and tectonic drivers of late Oligocene Antarctic ice volume', Nature Geoscience, vol. 15, no. 10, pp. 819–825. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-022-01025-x

Thorpe, AC, Anderson, A, Goodall, T, Thackeray, SJ, Maberly, SC, Bendle, JA, Gweon, HS & Read, DS 2022, 'Sedimentary DNA records long-term changes in a lake bacterial community in response to varying nutrient availability', Environmental DNA, vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 1340-1355. https://doi.org/10.1002/edn3.344

Yang, Y, Wang, C, Bendle, J, Luo, Z, Dang, X, Xue, J, Xiang, X & Xie, S 2021, 'Appraisal of paleoclimate indices based on bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids in 20 Chinese alkaline lakes', Organic Geochemistry, vol. 160, 104277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2021.104277

Ashley, KE, Crosta, X, Etourneau, J, Campagne, P, Gilchrist, H, Ibraheem, U, Greene, SE, Schmidt, S, Eley, Y, Massé, G & Bendle, J 2021, 'Exploring the use of compound-specific carbon isotopes as a palaeoproductivity proxy off the coast of Adélie Land, East Antarctica', Biogeosciences, vol. 18, no. 19, pp. 5555-5571. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-18-5555-2021

Wang, C, Bendle, JA, Yang, H, Yang, Y, Hardman, A, Yamoah, A, Thorpe, A, Mandel, I, Greene, SE, Huang, J & Xie, S 2021, 'Global calibration of novel 3-hydroxy fatty acid based temperature and pH proxies', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 302, pp. 101-119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2021.03.010

Yang, Y, Bendle, JA, Pancost, RD, Yan, Y, Ruan, X, Warren, B, Lü, X, Li, X, Yao, Y, Huang, X, Yang, H & Xie, S 2021, 'Leaf wax and Sr‐Nd isotope evidence for high‐latitude dust input to the central South China sea and its implication for fertilization', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 48, no. 11, e2020GL091853. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020gl091853

Ashley, K, McKay, R, Etourneau, J, Jimenez-Espejo, F, Condron, A, Albot, A, Crosta, X, Riesselman, C, Seki, O, Massé, G, Golledge, N, Gasson, E, Lowry, D, Barrand, N, Johnson, K, Bertler, N, Escutia, C, Dunbar, R & Bendle, J 2021, 'Mid-Holocene Antarctic sea-ice increase driven by marine ice sheet retreat', Climate of the Past, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-17-1-2021

Johnson, KM, McKay, RM, Etourneau, J, Jiménez-Espejo, FJ, Albot, A, Riesselman, CR, Bertler, NAN, Horgan, HJ, Crosta, X, Bendle, J, Ashley, KE, Yamane, M, Yokoyama, Y, Pekar, SF, Escutia, C & Dunbar, RB 2021, 'Sensitivity of Holocene East Antarctic productivity to subdecadal variability set by sea ice', Nature Geoscience, vol. 14, no. 10, pp. 762-768. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00816-y

Yang, Y, Wang, C, Bendle, JA, Yu, X, Gao, C, Lü, X, Ruan, X, Wang, R & Xie, S 2020, 'A new sea surface temperature proxy based on bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids', Organic Geochemistry, vol. 141, 103975. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2020.103975

Bendle, J 2020, 'Large-scale mass wasting on the Miocene continental margin of western India', Geological Society of America Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1130/b35158.1

Dunkley Jones, T, Eley, YL, Thompson, W, Greene, SE, Mandel, I, Edgar, K & Bendle, JA 2020, 'OPTiMAL: a new machine learning approach for GDGT-based palaeothermometry', Climate of the Past, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 2599–2617. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-16-2599-2020

Duncan, B, McKay, R, Bendle, J, Naish, T, Inglis, GN, Moossen, H, Levy, R, Ventura, GT, Lewis, A, Chamberlain, B & Walker, C 2019, 'Lipid biomarker distributions in Oligocene and Miocene sediments from the Ross Sea region, Antarctica: Implications for use of biomarker proxies in glacially-influenced settings', Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 516, pp. 71-89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.11.028

Wang, C, Bendle, J, Greene, S, Griffiths, ML, Huang, J, Moossen, H, Zhang, H, Ashley, K & Xie, S 2019, 'Speleothem biomarker evidence for a negative terrestrial feedback on climate during Holocene warm periods', Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 525, 115754. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115754

Conference contribution

Hall, J, Jones, S, Jones, TD & Bendle, J 2021, Mid-Pliocene warming: reducing discrepancies between geological archives and climate models in the NE Atlantic and Nordic Seas. in EGU General Assembly 2021., EGU21-220, European Geosciences Union, EGU General Assembly 2021, 19/04/21. https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-220

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