Biomarker & Paleoclimate

We are working in the field of biomarker analysis and their application for paleoclimatologic reconstructions. Biomarker are organic molecules that are highly specific for certain organisms, and their structure (e.g. count of double bonds) and isotopic composition relates to the climatic conditions (e.g. temperature, rainfall, pH) they were produced in. Biomarker are very resistant to degradation and keep their original structure over long timescales up to millions of years. Therefore, if we find these molecules in our climate archives (marine & lacustrine sediments, sedimentary rocks etc) we can infer information about past climates. Examples of biomarkers I’m interested in include δD and δ13C values of plant leaf waxes (long-chained n-alkanes and n-alkanoic acids), alkenones, Glycerol-Dialkyl-Glycerol-Diethers (“GDGTs”), plant terpernoids, and sterols. For biomarker analysis I use GC-MS, GC-IRMS and HPLC/APCI-MS.