Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Marine Paleoclimatology

Marine Paleoclimatology

Open Positions

Jörg Lippold

University of Heidelberg

Institute of Environmental Physics

Room 436
Im Neuenheimer Feld 229
69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0)6221 54-6385
fax: +49 (0)6221 54-6405


The Ocean is one of the primary factors controlling the climate of our planet. Understanding the Ocean's past is the key to understand the global climate of the future. Approaches to do so comprise fascinating and inter-disciplinary methods such as geochemistry, oceanography, nuclear physics, mass spectrometry and paleontology.

In particular I focus on the Atlantic Ocean of the last ~100,000 years. During this time range the Earth (and especially the circum North-Atlantic area) experienced huge variations of climatic states. Recent measurements from marine sediments indicate that also Ocean circulation has undergone major changes. However, timing, spatial extent and especially quantitative variations of the past circulation strength are poorly known. In order to estimate or model our climate's future evolution it is crucial to better understand the strength of the North Atlantic Deep Water export in major climatic transitions such as during the last deglaciation. Regarding the stability of the recent Atlantic deep circulation triggers of short-time but extreme cold events during the last glacial-interglacial cycle are of particular interest.


by Charles Saxon


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Gruppenfoto Maria Luiza de Carvalho Ferreira Evelyn Böhm Patrick Blaser Jörg Lippold Benny Antz Mario Ruckelshausen
f.l.t.r.: M. L. de Carvalho Ferreira, M. Ruckelshausen, E. Böhm, B. Antz, P. Blaser, J. Lippold


Joerg LippoldDr. rer. nat. Jörg Lippold

Head of the junior research group

phone: +49 (0)6221 54-6385

Email: joerg.lippold(at)

Evelyn Boehm

Dipl. Geol. Evelyn Böhm

PhD candidate

Phone: +49 (0)6221 54-6529

Email: evelyn.boehm(at)

Patrick BlaserB.Sc. Patrick Blaser

Master student

Phone: +49 (0)6221 54-6318

Email: patrick.blaser(at)

Benny AntzDipl. Phys. Benny Antz

PhD candidate

Phone: +49 (0)6221 54-6314

Email: benny.antz(at)

Maria Luiza de Carvalho Ferreira

Bachelor Student

Stipendiatin im Rahmen des DAAD-UNIBRAL Projekt:
Prof. Ulrich A. Glasmacher (Institut für Geowissenschaften Universität Heidelberg)
Prof. Peter Hackspacher (UNESP, Brasilien)

Email: malu_cf(at)

Cand. phys. David Wichmann

Bachelor Student

Email: david(at)


Former group members:

Dipl. Phys. Kerstin Bauer, Universite de Lausanne;

Dipl. Phys. Emanuel Christner, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie;

Dipl. Phys. Alexander Hofmann;

Dipl. Phys. Quentas Supiramaniam.


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Ongoing projects (initiated and/or contributing to)

Combined application of new proxies (231Pa/230Th and Nd isotopes) to reconstruct the deep ocean overturning over the last 30,000 years.


The deficit of 231Pa compared to 230Th in marine sediments provides the rate of past ocean circulation.
In contrast to the modern situation, several proxies point to a very different structure of water mass distribution during the Last Glacial. However, there is still no consensus about the variations of the circulation strength or the timing of these possible major changes. Protactinium, thorium, and neodymium isotopes, extracted from marine sediments, are promising novel proxies to reconstruct the past deep ocean hydrography and inter-basin water mass export. The combined application of these tracers done here for the first time on the same sediment samples from the Atlantic Ocean will vitally improve the understanding of both isotopic systems as well as our knowledge about the past ocean circulation. Thanks to extensive measurements and additional theoretical considerations one proxy will provide information about the rate of overturning circulation, whereas the other allows the identification of the water mass provenance.

Partners for this project:

Jeanne Gherardi, Gif-Sur-Yvette

Sylvain Pichat, Lyon

Yiming Luo, Vancouver

Marcus Christl, Zurich

Roger Francois, Vancouver

Rainer Zahn, Barcelona

Susan Allen, Vancouver

Ben Hickey, Oxford

Hartmut Schulz, Tübingen

Marcus Gutjahr, Southampton

Morten Andersen, Bristol

Frank Wombacher, Cologne

Funded by the DFG


Reconstruction of the Atlantic paleocirculation back to the Last Interglacial by a combined proxy approach from ODP Leg 172 Site 1063 sediments

Executed by Evelyn Böhm


Present-day distribution of sea water 143Nd/144Nd. High values indicate southern source water, while very negative values reflect the isotopic signature of northern source water masses.

231Pa/230Th and εNd from deep sea sediments are promising proxies to derive the past paleoceanography, however, both are subject to specific limitations. In preceding projects the high accumulating sediment core ODP Leg 172 Site 1063 has been proved as an appropriate location for the application of both proxies.
Therefore, by a combination of 231Pa/230Th and εNd the past strength of ocean circulation will be examined in high temporal resolution back to the last Interglacial (Eemian). It is assumed, that temperatures during the Eemian were partly higher than during the Holocene. Thus, in regard to a recent global warming, the reconstruction of the past Ocean circulation may serve to anticipate future developments.

Partners for this project:

Marcus Gutjahr, Southampton

Morten Andersen, Bristol

Frank Wombacher, Cologne

Jens Grützner, Bremerhaven

Jens Fohlmeister, Heidelberg

Marcus Christl, Zurich

Johannes Rempfer, Bern

Funded by the DFG Schwerpunkprogramm Integrated Ocean Drilling Program/Ocean Drilling Program (IODP/ODP)


Constraining ocean circulation modes and balancing the 14C-cycle of the last 40 ka based on dating of ultra-small carbonate samples from ODP Site 1063.

Executed together with Jens Fohlmeister (Heidelberg), Michal Kucera (Bremen) and Hartmut Schulz (Tübingen)


Reconstructions of 14C concentrations revealed that large changes in the partitioning of radiocarbon among the main reservoirs on earth must have occurred in the past. Thus, significant interest went into the reconstruction of past ocean circulation and hence its variable control on the storage or release of CO2 as well as its heat supply to higher Northern latitudes. In this project, we aim to track changes in ocean circulation as well as in the global 14C cycle for the last 40,000 years by 14C measurements on planktonic and benthic foraminifera in the sediment record of ODP Site 1063, which can be directly correlated to the Greenland Ice Core chronology. The paired radiocarbon measurements will be used to reconstruct the "reservoir age" of the North-West Atlantic and derive the ventilation age of the deep water masses. In order to radiocarbon date benthic foraminifera from deep water depths we will for the first time apply cutting edge developments in the AMS tech nique, allowing the determination of 14C from sample sizes below 50 μg C. Additionally, we will measure sortable silt, providing for the first time a data set of four distinct proxies of ocean circulation (14C, 'sortable silt' and already measured 231Pa/230Th and εNd) from the same sediment core. A comparison of these four proxies will allow a high-resolution reconstruction of deep-water, circulation strength, water mass age and water mass provenance.

Partners for this project:

Lukas Wacker, Zurich

Funded by the DFG Schwerpunkprogramm Integrated Ocean Drilling Program/Ocean Drilling Program (IODP/ODP)


Comprehensive analysis of Atlantic Circulation during Heinrich-Events

Executed by Benny Antz


Huge IRD within the H2 layer of ME-69-196


Assessing the past variations of the AMOC is a major challenge for paleoceanography in order to provide possible scenarios of future climate changes. In particular, significant interest addresses the question of how excessive freshwater input through melting of continental ice can affect its overturning. Such forcing can be tested by investigating its behaviour during extreme iceberg discharge events into the open North Atlantic during the last glacial period, the so called Heinrich-Events.
Heinrich-Events evidenced an extreme freshening of the Atlantic Ocean at high latitudes assumedly resulting in a diminished relative influence of northern-source deep waters during these times. It has been recommended to improve the understanding of such past AMOC changes through the analysis of the 231Pa/230Th proxy from marine sediments, because 231Pa/230Th is capable of providing quantitative estimations in combination with models. However, the up to date sparse database does not allow such constraints on the AMOC during Heinrich-Events. Further, it has been reported that Heinrich-Events partially came along with high biogenic opal productivity, which possibly biases the sensitivity of 231Pa/230Th to AMOC.
In our new project the database of 231Pa/230Th all over the Atlantic Ocean will be increased significantly. These measurements will be accompanied by the estimation of the biogenic opal content of the sediment samples. Strength and geometry of the AMOC before, during and after the Heinrich-Events 1 and 2 will be derived from this new database in an inverse model approach. By this we follow the question about if Heinrich-Events either caused cessations of AMOC or if maybe in contrast Heinrich-Events are the result of AMOC changes. Thus, in the context of potential ice shield melting and increasing precipitation in the northern North Atlantic, Heinrich-Events may display a model scenario improving our understanding of the upcoming response of AMOC on climate changes.

Partners for this project:

Hartmut Schulz, Tübingen

Jeanne Gherardi, Gif-Sur-Yvette

Marcus Gutjahr, Southampton

Funded by the DFG Schwerpunkprogramm Integrated Ocean Drilling Program/Ocean Drilling Program (IODP/ODP)


Deriving Glacial-Interglacial dust fluxes by analysing 232Th from marine sediments

Contributing to the work of Gisela Winckler (Lamont), Stefanie Kienast (Halifax) and Natalie Mahowald (Ithaca, NY)


Dust plays a critical role in Earth’s climate system and serves as a natural source of iron and other micronutrients to remote regions of the ocean. Based on 232Th measurements from marine sediments (being mainly of lithogenic origin 232Th is an indicator for dust) we want to map global dust fluxes in time slices back to the Last Glacial Maximum.


Cross sections of fast neutron induced reactions with 238U and 232Th

Contributing to the work of Karin Eisenhut (Wien), Anton Wallner (Sydney) and Marcus Christl (Zurich)


In this project cross-sections of fast neutron induced reactions on natural uranium and thorium are measured. Th and U samples are irradiated at the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements in Geel, Belgium with fast neutrons (energies between 17 and 22 MeV). Reaction products will be measured by AMS at the University of Vienna, ETH Zurich and Univerity of Sydney. From the measured isotope ratios together with the neutron flux cross-section data for these reactions can be calculated.



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Open Positions


Currently no vacancies (depending on funding student research assistants are welcome from time to time, just ask).

Offers for bachelor or master theses

Due to the dynamical evolution in this field of research new topics and projects come up regularly. Just ask or drop in.


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Lippold, J., S. Mulitza, G. Mollenhauer, S. Weyer and M. Christl, 2012. Boundary scavenging at the east Atlantic margin does not negate use of Pa/Th to trace Atlantic overturning. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 333 − 334 (p. 317 − 331).

Lippold, J., Y. Luo, R. Francois, S. Allen, J. Gherardi, S. Pichat, B. Hickey and H. Schulz, 2012. Strength and Geometry of the glacial Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Nature Geoscience, 10.1038/NGEO1608.

Bouimetarhan,I., M. Prange, E. Schefuß, L. Dupont, J. Lippold, S. Mulitza, K. Zonneveld, 2012. Sahel megadrought during Heinrich Stadial 1: Evidence for a three-phase evolution of the low-and mid-level West African wind system. Quaternary Science Reviews 58 (66 − 76).

Lippold, J., J. Gherardi and Y. Luo, 2011. Testing the 231Pa/230Th paleocirculation proxy - A data versus 2D model comparison. Geophysical Research Letters 38 (L20603).

Gutjahr Marcus and Lippold Joerg, 2011. Early arrival of Southern Source Water in the deep North Atlantic prior to Heinrich event 2, Paleoceanography 26 (PA2101).

Christl, M., J. Lippold, F. Steinhilber, F. Bernsdorff & Mangini, A, 2010. Reconstruction of global 10Be production over the past 250 ka from highly accumulating Atlantic drift sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews 29.

Lippold, J., J. Grützner, D. Winter, Y. Lahaye, A. Mangini and M. Christl, 2009. Does sedimentary 231Pa/230Th from the Bermuda Rise monitor past Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation? Geophysical Research Letters 36 (L12601).

Christl, M., J. Lippold, A. Hofmann, L. Wacker, Y. Lahaye and H. Synal, 2009. 231Pa/230Th: a proxy for upwelling off the coast of West Africa. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B. 268 (1159−1162).

J. Lippold, 2008. Die Anwendung des 231Pa/230Th Verhältnisses zur Rekonstruktion der Atlantischen Zirkulation. PhD thesis (german), Ruprecht−Karls−Universität, Heidelberg. pdf.

Christl, M., L. Wacker, J. Lippold and M. Suter, 2007. Protactinium−231, a new radionuclide for AMS. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B. 262 (379−384).


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2009 − 2013 DFG funded Eigene Stelle position for Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship.
2010European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Grant for ‘The ocean chemistry of bioactive trace elements and paleoclimate proxies’.
2008ECORD-scholarship for ODP Summerschool on Paleoceanography, Bremen.


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Conference contributions/invited talks

Strength and Geometry of the glacial Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation,
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Seminar on Geochemistry, 30th August 2011, invited by Jerry McManus
Uni Mainz, Seminar on Paleoclimatology, 16th November 2011, invited by Denis Scholz
Uni Bern, 19th November 2012, invited by Thomas Stocker
UAB Barcelona, 30th October 2012, invited by Rainer Zahn
Gif-Sur-Yvette, 25th October 2012, invited by Jeanne Gherardi
NOC Southampton, 29th November 2012, invited by Tim Minshull
Hochschule Mannheim, 16th May 2013, invited by Gerhart Mairle
Hessischer Rundfunk, TV Interview, live presentation of my research results in the program "Alle Wetter"

Co-Convenor at Pages Goa 2013 - 4th open science meeting

Glacial Atlantic Circulation - Insights from combined sedimentary εNd and 231Pa/230Th records - Goldschmidt Conference, Montreal, 2012,
Jörg Lippold, Marcus Gutjahr, Frank Wombacher, Emanuel Christner, Marcus Christl.

An Atlantic Ocean 231Pa/230Th survey - Goldschmidt Conference, Prague, 2011,
Jörg Lippold, Sylvain Pichat , Yiming Luo, Jeanne-Marie Gherardi, Roger Francois.

Towards single-foraminifera-dating with a gas ion source, AMS 2012, 20 – 25 March 2011, Wellington,
L. Wacker, J. Lippold, M. Molnár, H. Schulz.

MARGO Deep, Mount Hood, 2010
C. Waelbroeck, T. Dokken, S. Mulitza, T. Marchitto, J. Gherardi, J. Lippold, L. Skinner, E. Michel.

The response of sedimentary 231Pa/230Th on particle flux - findings from the African margin - Goldschmidt Conference, Davos, 2009,
Jörg Lippold, Marcus Christl, Alexander Hofmann, Gesine Mollenhauer, Stefan Mulitza, Stefan Weyer and Augusto Mangini; published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 73, Issue 13S.

Sedimentary 231Pa/230Th, measured by AMS,
"Aktuelle Themen aus der Beschleunigermassenspektrometrie und deren Anwendungen", ETH Zurich, 18. March, 2009.

Challenges to Understanding Ocean Circulation during the Last Glacial Maximum - MARUM Workshop: Reconstruction of the Glacial Deep Ocean Circulation Bremen, Germany, 4-7 November 2008,
Paul, A., S. Mulitza, T. Arsouze, W. Berger, T. Bickert, M. Butzin, C. Chiessi, M. Cook, T. Dokken, J.-M. Gherardi, M. Gutjahr, E. Hathorne, B. Hickey, J. Hirschi, B. Hoogakker, J. Lippold, J. Lynch-Stieglitz, A. Mackensen, O. Marchal, T. Marchitto, E. Michel, U. Ninnemann, K. Oliver, A. Piotrowski, M. Prange, M. Sarnthein, L. Skinner and M. Weinelt; published in EOS Trans. AGU, 2009, 90(19), 169.

Display sedimentary 231Pa/230Th ratios the deep water circulation of the Atlantic Ocean? − An approach for the past 30,000 years - Goldschmidt Conference, Vancouver 2008,
Jörg Lippold, Marcus Christl, Jens Grützner, Yann Lahaye, Diane Winter and Augusto Mangini; published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2008, Volume 72, Number 12S.


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Professional positions

since 2009 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Environmental Physics, Uni Heidelberg.
2005 − 2008 Research Associate at the paleoclimate work group of the Academy of Sciences Heidelberg.
2002 − 2005 Assessor for federal state authorities at the Institute for Nuclear Technology and Radiation Protection, TÜV Rheinland, Cologne.
1998 − 2002 Student assistant at the Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Tübingen.
1999 Working student Robert-Bosch GmbH: semiconductor development.

2008 PhD in Physics, University of Heidelberg, Advisors: Prof. A. Mangini and Prof. Werner Aeschbach-Hertig.
2002 Diploma (MSc) in Physics, University of Tübingen, Advisor: Prof. R. Staubert on x-ray astronomy.
2000 Research visit at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: observational cosmology with Warrick Couch.
1997 − 1999 Elected member of faculty council, Physics, Uni Tübingen
1995 − 2002 Studies of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tübingen.
1994 − 1995 Community service at group home for homeless people, Caritas, Stuttgart.


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Reviewer for the German (DFG) and the Dutch (NWO) Science Foundations.

Reviewer for: Quaternary Science Reviews, Earth and Planetary Science Letters.


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IUP (Institute for Environmental Physics, Heidelberg)


I'm a mentor for students who contribute to the Seminar in Environmental Physics


In 2005 I founded the IUP football team. We play Wednesdays 6.30 pm next to the beach-volley ball grounds at the sports institute (during winters in the socc-arena).

All environmental physicists and guests are welcome.


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