Franziska Lechleitner

Franziska Lechleitner

Visiting Researcher (SNSF Postdoc Mobility Fellow)

I am a paleoclimatologist and geochemist working with speleothems. My research focuses on the application of a diverse set of proxies (e.g., stable isotopes, trace elements, radiocarbon, organic matter), with the aim of reconstructing climatic and environmental conditions in the past.

My main focus is the development of novel speleothem geochemical proxies that inform us on changes in the local carbon cycle and the soil overlying the caves. Soils are the largest terrestrial reservoir of carbon, and store about three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. Changes in the flux of carbon between soils and other geospheres can therefore have significant impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and influence global climate. This is particularly important as the response of soils to on-going anthropogenic climate change is still uncertain, due to the heterogeneous nature of soils.

With speleothems, which can often be very precisely dated using radiometric methods (U-Th), it is potentially possible to reconstruct past changes in soil carbon dynamics linked to climate shifts (e.g., the last deglaciation). In my project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, I am developing a geochemical proxy that can trace changes in soil processes in speleothems, and thus inform on past perturbations of this important carbon reservoir.

Other research interests of mine include:

  • High-resolution Quaternary paleorainfall reconstructions from tropical regions, especially India and Central America (Belize), links to volcanic and solar forcing
  • Extraction and characterisation of organic matter entrapped in speleothem fabrics
  • Construction of speleothem chronologies using radiocarbon
  • U-Th and U-Pb dating of speleothems

Lechleitner, F.A., Dittmar, T., Baldini, J.U.L., Prufer, K.M.P., Eglinton, T.I. (2017): Molecular signatures of dissolved organic matter in a tropical karst system. Organic Geochemistry, 113, 141-149, DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2017.07.015.


Lechleitner, F.A., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Cheng, H., Plessen, B., Rehfeld, K., Goswami, B., Marwan, N., Eroglu, D., Adkins, J., Haug, G. (2017): Climatic and in-cave influences on δ18O and δ13C in a stalagmite from northeastern India through the last deglaciation. Quaternary Research, 88, 458-471, DOI: 10.1017/qua.2017.72.


Smirnov, D.A., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Feulner, G., Lechleitner, F.A., Prufer, K.M.P., Baldini, J.U.L., Marwan, N., Kurths, J., (2017): A regime shift in the Sun-Climate connection with the end of the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Scientific Reports, 7, 11131, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11340-8.


Lechleitner, F.A., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Rehfeld, K., Ridley, H.E., Asmerom, Y., Prufer, K.M., Marwan, N., Goswami, B., Kennett, D.J., Aquino, V.V., Polyak, V., Haug, G.H., Eglinton, T.I., Baldini, J.U.L. (2017): Tropical rainfall over the last two millennia: evidence for a low-latitude hydrologic seesaw. Scientific Reports, 7, 45809, DOI: 10.1038/srep45809.


McIntyre, C.P., Lechleitner, F.A., Lang, S.Q., Haghipour, N., Fahrni, S., Wacker, L., Synal, H.-A. (2016): 14C contamination testing in natural abundance laboratories: a new preparation method using wet chemical oxidation and some experiences. Radiocarbon, DOI:10.1017/RDC.2016.78.


Lechleitner, F.A., Baldini, J.U.L., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Fohlmeister, J., McIntyre, C., Goswami, B., Jamieson, R.A., van der Voort, T.S., Prufer, K., Marwan, N., Culleton, B.J., Kennett, D.J., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V., Eglinton, T.I. (2016): Hydrological and climatological controls on radiocarbon concentrations in a tropical stalagmite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 194, 233-252.


Lechleitner, F.A., Fohlmeister, J., McIntyre, C., Baldini, L.M., Jamieson, R.A., Hercman, H., Gasiorowski, M., Pawlak, J., Stefaniak, K., Socha, P., Eglinton, T.I., Baldini, J.U.L. (2016): A novel approach for construction of radiocarbon-based chronologies for speleothems. Quaternary Geochronology, 35, 54-66.


Breitenbach, S.F.M., Lechleitner, F.A., Meyer, H., Diengdoh, G., Mattey, D., Marwan, N. (2015): Cave ventilation and rainfall signals in dripwater in a monsoonal setting – a monitoring study from NE India. Chemical Geology, 402, 111-124.


Ridley, H.E., Asmerom, Y., Baldini, J.U.L., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Aquino, V.V., Prufer, K.M., Culleton, B.J., Polyak, V., Lechleitner, F.A., Kennett, D.J., Zhang, M., Marwan, N., Macpherson, C.G., Baldini, L.M., Xiao, T., Peterkin, J., Awe, J., Haug, G.H. (2015): Aerosol forcing of the position of the intertropical convergence zone since AD 1550. Nature Geoscience, 8, 195-200.