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 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.


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


Latest news: £283,946, Leverhulme Trust Grant funded (start summer 2018): “Unlocking the Toolbox of Soil Bacterial Biomarkers” PRG-2018-110.

NERC Standard Grant funded (start summer 2017): Dunkley Jones, T, Bendle J. et al., 2016, £628,079, ‘Reducing Greenhouse Climate Proxy Uncertainty’,


James has generated >£1,800,000 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 seven palaeoclimatological field campaigns in the USA Scotland, Japan and China (leading four).

Over the last five years a significant portion of James’ time has been 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).

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).


  • ESCM317 & ESCM437 Palaeoclimates (Lead)
  • ESCM 402 MSci Advances in Earth Science (Lead)
  • ESCM252 Advanced Field Skills II: Assynt, NW Scotland Field course for Geol/Geog (Lead)
  • ESCM 131 Pembrokeshire residential field course
  • CENTA Tenerife Residential “The Speed PhD – An Introduction to Your Research Degree”.
  • ESCM240 and 244 Geog/Geol and Palaeobiology projects, including field supervision
  • ESCM133 Topics in Geology
  • ESCM431 LM Advanced Projects
  • ESCM101 Earth Systems and Sediment Rocks & GGM102 Earth and Ecological Systems

Postgraduate supervision

James is part of a team of paleoclimate focused academics at Birmingham who jointly supervise a thriving community of palaeoclimatology focused PhD students including: Bridgette Warren (Leverhulme Forest Edge), Yang Yi (CSC Visitor Wuhan, CUG, China), Jinjing Liu (CSC visitor Tongji, China) Huub Zwart (NERC CENTA DTP) Jonathan Hall (NERC Oil and Gas CDT) Kate Newton (NERC – UK), Marcelo Mota (Brazil).

Previous PhD students include: Heiko Moossen; Paula Sankelo, Huiling Sun, McColl; Frederike Wittkopp; Canfa Wang; Bella Duncan, Carlos D’Apolito Junior.

I am committed to training and developing talented Masters level students and undergraduates as researchers. This is achieved through laboratory based projects and externally funded bursaries (16 bursaries so far: from The Geological Society, Nuffield Foundation, NERC-IODP, external partners) to participate on fieldwork and undertake laboratory assistantships.


Priority research themes: 

  • Biomarker proxy development.
  • Greenhouse worlds, future analogues, Cenozoic and Holocene climate evolution.

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:

Kate E. Newton, James Bendle, Robert McKay, Johan Etourneau, Francisco J. Jimenez, Espejo3,4, Alan Condron, Anya Albot, Xavier Crosta, Christina Riesselman, Osamu Seki, Guillaume Masse, Nicholas R. Golledge, Edward Gasson, Carlota Escutia, Daniel P. Lowry, Nancy Bertler and Robert Dunbar, Mid-Holocene Antarctic sea-ice increase driven by marine ice sheet retreat.

Wang, C., Bendle, J., Huang, J., Moossen, H., Zhang, H., Newton, K., Xie, S., Increased terrestrial microbial respiration during the Holocene climate optimum and medieval warm period.

Duncan, B., Bendle, J., MacKay, R., Naish, T., Levy, R., Ventura, T., Moossen, H., n-Alkane distributions across a range of depositional environments in Oligocene and Miocene sediments from the Ross Sea region, Antarctica: Implications for use of biomarker proxies in glacially influenced settings.

Wittkopp, W., Dunkley Jones, T., Yamamto, M., Moossen, H, Henderson, A., Bendle. J.A., Evolution of sea surface temperatures in the Japan Sea since the Mid-Miocene.

Published and Accepted:

Wang, C., Bendle, J., Zhang, H., Yang, Y., Liu, D., Huang, J., Cui., J.,  Xie, S. 2018, Holocene temperature and hydrological changes reconstructed by bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids in a stalagmite from central China. Quaternary Science Reviews. Volume 192, 97-105, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.05.030

Wang, C., Bendle, J., Yang, Y., Yang, H., Huang, J., Xie, S., 2016, Impacts of pH and temperature on soil bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids: Development of novel terrestrial proxies. Organic Geochemistry, 94, April 2016, 21–31. doi:10.1016/j.orggeochem.2016.01.010.

D.K. Pandey, P.D. Clift, D.K. Kulhanek, S. Andò, J.A.P. Bendle, S. Bratenkov, E.M. Griffith, G.P. Gurumurthy, A. Hahn, M. Iwai, B.-K. Khim, A. Kumar, A.G. Kumar, H.M. Liddy, H. Lu., M.W. Lyle, R. Mishra, T. Radhakrishna, C.M. Routledge, R. Saraswat, R. Saxena, G. Scardia, G.K. Sharma, A.D. Singh, S. Steinke, K. Suzuki, L. Tauxe, M. Tiwari, Z. Xu, and Z. Yu. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 355 Preliminary Report. Arabian Sea Monsoon. Deep sea drilling in the Arabian Sea: constraining tectonic-monsoon interactions in South Asia. 2015 doi:10.14379/iodp.pr.355.2015

Moossen, H., Bendle, J., Seki, O., Quillmann, U.,Kawamura, K., 2015, North Atlantic Holocene climate evolution recorded by high-resolution terrestrial and marine biomarker records. Quaternary Science Reviews, 129, pp111–127; doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.013.

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., Mikami, Y., Nagao, S., Bendle, J.A., Nakatsuka, T., Kim, 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). 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: 10.1177/0959683613505346

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.

Bijl, P.K., Bendle, J.A., Bohaty, S.M., Pross, J., Schouten, S., Tauxe, L., Stickley, C.E., Röhl, U., Sluijs A., Olney, M., Brinkhuis, H., Escutia, C., and Expedition 318 Scientists, 2013, Eocene cooling linked to early flow across 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.

Stocchi, P., Escutia, C., Houben, A.J.P., Vermeersen, B.L.A., Bijl, P.K.,Brinkhuis, H., DeConto, R.M., Galeotti, S., Passchier, S., Pollard, D. Klaus, A., Fehr, A., Williams, T., Bendle, J.A.P., Steven M. Bohaty, Stephanie A. Carr, Robert B. Dunbar, et al., (2013), Relative sea-level rise around East Antarctica during Oligocene glaciation. Nature Geoscience 6, 380-384.

Pross, J., Contreras, L., Bijl, P.K., Greenwood, D.R., Bohaty, S.M, Bendle, J.A., Röhl, U., Tauxe, L.T., Raine, J., Huck, C.E., van de Flierdt, T., Jamieson, S.S.R., Stickley, C.E., van de Schootbrugge, B., Schouten, S., Escutia, C., Brinkhuis, H., 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 palaeotemperature proxies in an urban, hyper-eutrophic and polluted lake in South Africa., Organic Geochemistry, 53, pp 45–51

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), Chronostratigraphic framework for the IODP Expedition 318 cores from the Wilkes Land Margin: Constraints for paleoceanographic reconstruction. Paleoceanography, 27, PA2214, doi:10.1029/2012PA002308, 2012

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, 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 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, pp. 93-105.

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 glacial and Holocene terrestrial temperatures and sources of organic carbon recorded in the Amazon fan by tetraether lipids. 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.; 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.