Franziska Lechleitner

Franziska Lechleitner

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 molecular and isotopic characterisation of organic matter entrapped in speleothem fabrics
  • Construction of speleothem chronologies using radiocarbon
  • Western Europe regional lead coordinator of the Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and Analysis (SISAL) PAGES working group (

Lechleitner, F.A., Mason, A.J., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Vaks, A., Haghipour, N., Henderson, G.M. (2020): Permafrost-related hiatuses in stalagmites: evaluating the potential for reconstruction of carbon cycle dynamics, Quaternary Geochronology, 56, 10.1016/j.quageo.2019.101037


Magiera, M., Lechleitner, F.A., Erhardt, A., Hartland, A., Kwiecien, O., Cheng, H., Bradbury, H.J., Turchyn, A.V., Riechelmann, S., Edwards, L., Breitenbach, S.F.M. (2019): Local and Regional Indian Summer Monsoon Precipitation Dynamics During Termination II and the Last Interglacial, Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 10.1029/2019GL083721


Lechleitner, F.A., Lang, S.Q., Haghipour, N., McIntyre, C., Prufer, K.M.P., Baldini, J.U.L., Eglinton, T.I. (2019): Towards organic carbon isotope records from stalagmites: coupled δ13C and 14C analysis using wet chemical oxidation, Radiocarbon, 61(3), 749-764, DOI: 10.1017/RDC.2019.35


Fohlmeister, J., Lechleitner, F.A. (2019): STAlagmite dating by Radiocarbon (star): a software tool for reliable and fast age depth modelling, Quaternary Geochronology, 51, 120-129, DOI: 10.1016/j.quageo.2019.02.008


Lechleitner, F.A., Amirnezhad-Mozhdehi, S., Columbu, A., Comas-Bru, L., Labuhn, I., Pérez-Mejìas, C., Rehfeld, K. (2018): The potential of speleothems from Western Europe as recorders of regional climate: A critical assessment of the SISAL database, Quaternary, 1(3), 30, DOI: 10.3390/quat1030030


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.


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.


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.


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.