Promotion – Associate Professor Lisa Baldini

We are excited to announce a recent promotion in our team, Dr Lisa Baldini is now an Associate Professor.  Lisa specialises in palaeoclimate  and environmental geochemistry research.

Lisa has recently led an expedition to Gabon, funded by National Geographic Explorer Level II Grant to explore West Africa for stalagmite-bearing caves and generate the region’s first-ever stalagmite palaeoclimate reconstruction


West African Palaeoclimate Project

In late 2022 Dr Lisa Baldini received a National Geographic Explorer grant to seek out stalagmite-bearing caves in western Africa for palaeorainfall reconstruction. Very little is know about long-term rainfall variability in this region of Africa and this information is critical for climate models aimed at predicting future change.

You might be interested in following the project on FB, ‘Western African Palaeoclimate Project’  or the Twitter page . Through both of these social media sites (with sprinkles of highlights on LinkedIn), regular project updates and highlights (field and lab) as well as offer some insights into climate change, how and why we reconstruct past climate using stalagmites, and all things cave/climate related! You’ll also be able to meet our team of wonderful project partners from the UK, Morocco, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon! Please feel free to share widely. Student followers are most welcome.

INQUA 2023 – Roma, Italy

INQUA 2023 was held in Rome 13th-20th July, Sapienza University. The congress was opened by the President of Italy, in the most amazing lecture theater. The congress covers quaternary sciences, but includes human evolution, anthropocene, climate records, processes and models. The climate discussions were a very hot topic (!!) with rome reaching a record temperature of 41.8oC. Despite this, conference organizers did a superb job to help attendees, the lunch and coffee break sessions were fantastic.

We had two presentations, firstly by Dr Caroline Orr – Microbial and chemical characterisation from occupation contexts involved in the preservation of Roman writing tablets, and secondly Dr Gillian Taylor –  Monitoring peatlands changes at the Roman site of Magna, Northumberland, UK.

Talks and poster sessions were well attended (higher for those in airconditioned rooms!), the quality, expertise and diversity of the talks makes this the best conference I have been too in a long time.

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New Publication: Assessment of genetic and morphological differentiation among populations of the Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius – Dr Desire Dalton

Migration strategies within the tropics are poorly understood as are the drivers of movement and the degree of connectivity between sites in migrant birds that have their global range and life cycle exclusively on a single continent (intra-continental migrants). Dr Desiré Lee Dalton (Lecturer, Teesside University), Dr Jamie Bojko (Senior Lecturer, Teesside University) and collaborators have conducted a study on Diederik Cuckoo, an African bird species that is widely distributed south of the Sahara which migrates seasonally between breeding and nonbreeding sites. The aim of the study was to determine if the species is a single panmictic population or if it is genetically structured. Assessment of five morphometric measures did not identify differences between locality or sex. We additionally identified a lack of phylogeographic structure between populations from the northern and southern ends of the distribution which may be attributed to high levels of contemporary gene flow. However, we detected two genetic lineages that occurred in sympatry at a single location in South Africa (Limpopo). The sympatric lineages in the Diederik Cuckoo could be linked to maternal divergence in host selection of these brood parasites — a hypothesis requiring additional data to be tested.

Access the publication through the publisher’s website with this link (

New Publication in Nature – TU Press Release

Date of historic volcanic eruption wrong by 130 years? 

New research involving Teesside University has found the eruption date of a historic volcano is wrong by 130 years and that this miscalculation could impact our understanding of climate change.

The study, published in leading journal Nature on Thursday, 6 July 2023, argues that the Laacher See volcanic eruption in Germany took place 12,880 years ago – 130 years after the date previously reported.

The eruption of the Laacher See volcano is one of central Europe’s largest eruptions over the past 100,000 years.

The research team believe that having the wrong date impacts the ability to evaluate natural climate change in the past, impacting how scientists predict future, human caused, climate change.

Dr Lisa Baldini, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science in Teesside University’s School of Health & Life Sciences, who co-authored the study, said: “A correct age for this eruption is critical because the volcanic material that was deposited across Europe during the event is used to date numerous important sedimentary archives of past climates.

“Getting the date wrong will impact on our ability to evaluate the drivers of natural climate change in the past, which is critical for developing models that accurately predict future, human-caused, climate change.”

The research team, led by Durham University and including scientists from Teesside University, University of Oxford, Royal Holloway University of London, and SYSTEMIQ Ltd, suggest that the eruption date may have been compromised by volcanic carbon.

They argue that volcanoes outgas carbon dioxide from the underlying magma chamber, which filters through the soil and is absorbed by any vegetation, including trees. This magmatic carbon dioxide has no radiocarbon in it, because it is ancient carbon that has been in the ground for millions of years. Incorporation of this dead carbon into the tree will produce a date which will be too old.

Professor James Baldini, of Durham University, who led the study, said: “Our new study notes that the recent date for the eruption does not consider dead carbon which is emitted by the volcano and is absorbed by trees. Therefore, the trees used in the Reinig et al. were contaminated by this volcanic carbon, producing an age that was around 130 years too old.”

“This perspective is supported by the presence of a very large sulphur spike found in the Greenland ice sheet with all the characteristics of the Laacher See eruption, dated 130 years after the new Reinig et al. date.

“The eruption, therefore, is still a viable trigger for the Younger Dryas Event.”

The Laacher See volcanic eruption was similar in size to the cataclysmic Mt Pinatubo eruption in 1991 (pictured).

The ash resulting from the eruption is widely used as a time marker in sedimentary sequences across Europe, so the timing of the eruption affects the reported timing of environmental change as reconstructed from these European lake cores.

Grandad Forgot My Name

You may associate us with archaeology, environment and ecology but we dabble in all sorts of fascinating subjects. And here’s a totally new one for you today…

Our interactive stories into dementia care have now been released!!

Dementia is a global epidemic, affecting millions worldwide. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know someone affected by dementia. This has caused a major problem that there just isn’t enough resources to help provide the pastoral support to those with dementia and their families. Children find it especially difficult to understand.

So where do we come in? Well as you know, we love public engagement and digital tech. And so, we’ve been quietly working away at making interactive digital storytelling media focused on helping children (and adults) understand dementia in their loved ones. But of course, why listen to us talking about it when you can try it out for yourselves! Just follow this link and click “Run Book”

This is completely new for us and for healthcare. Does it work? Is it worthwhile? The honest answer is, we dont know! But we’re ecstatic to find out.