I am a geochemist researching climate change and the carbon cycle.
Paleoclimate: I develop and refine geochemical proxies to understand the history of the past environment. These include radioactive isotopes to study rates of processes, and stable-isotopes to understand variables such as past rainfall or weathering. I also construct timescales for these proxy-records, and run a leading chronology lab using U-Th and U-Pb dating to assess the history of sea level and of climate records in stalagmites. The unifying goal of this work is to use paleoclimate to better understand the processes controlling climate change.
Ocean chemistry: The oceans play a critical role in driving climate via the carbon cycle. By making appropriate measurements in the water column and underlying core-top sediments, I assess the modern cycling of elements in the ocean, and calibrate paleoproxies which enable reconstruction of the past ocean environment. I research the iron cycle in the oceans – so important for its role as a limiting nutrient – assessing the fluxes of Fe into the ocean from atmosphere, land and sediment.
Greenhouse gas removal: I use understanding of natural geochemical processes in terrestrial and marine settings to assess the potential and risks of deliberate intervention in the carbon cycle to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This work includes consideration of enhanced weathering, assessing the impacts on soil, river, and ocean chemistry. It also includes assessment of inorganic routes, including increasing ocean alkalinity. In 2018 I chaired a Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering group to assess the range of options for Greenhouse Gas Removal.
At present, I am working as the Chief Scientific Advisor for the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra).
I am not presently teaching undergraduate courses but in the recent past taught: The Carbon Cycle (2nd year); Climate (3rd year; co-taught with Ros Rickaby and Samar Khatiwala); Topics in Oceanography (4th year; co-taught with other oceanographers); and the final year field trip to Bermuda.
View Selected Publications
Some recent publications listed below. For a full list, see:
• Qiao, J, H Zhang, P Steier, K Hain, X Hou, V -P Vartti, G M Henderson An Unknown Source of Reactor Radionuclides in the Baltic Sea Revealed by Multi-isotope Fingerprints. (2021) Nature communications 12(1).
• Pogge von Strandmann, P A E, P Renforth, A J West, M J Murphy, T -H Luu, and G M Henderson. The Lithium and Magnesium Isotope Signature of Olivine Dissolution in Soil Experiments. (2021) Chemical Geology 560.
• Hsieh, Y -T, L Bridgestock, P P Scheuermann, W E Seyfried, and G M Henderson. Barium Isotopes in Mid-ocean Ridge Hydrothermal Vent Fluids: A Source of Isotopically Heavy Ba to the Ocean. (2021) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 292.
• Vaks, A., Mason, A.J., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Kononov, A.M., Osinzev, A.V., Rosensaft, M., Borshevsky, A., Gutareva, O.S., Henderson, G.M. Palaeoclimate evidence of vulnerable permafrost during times of low sea ice (2020) Nature, 577 (7789), pp. 221-225.
• Carolin, S.A., Walker, R.T., Day, C.C., Ersek, V., Alastair Sloan, R., Dee, M.W., Talebian, M., Henderson, G.M. Precise timing of abrupt increase in dust activity in the Middle East coincident with 4.2 ka social change (2019) PNAS, 116 (1), pp. 67-72.
• Deng, F., Henderson, G.M., Castrillejo, M., Perez, F.F., Steinfeldt, R. Evolution of 231Pa and 230Th in overflow waters of the North Atlantic (2018) Biogeosciences, 15 (23), pp. 7299-7313.
• Owen, R., Day, C.C., Henderson, G.M. CaveCalc: A new model for speleothem chemistry & isotopes (2018) Computers and Geosciences, 119, pp. 115-122.
• Hemsing, F., Hsieh, Y.-T., Bridgestock, L., Spooner, P.T., Robinson, L.F., Frank, N., Henderson, G.M. Barium isotopes in cold-water corals (2018) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 491, pp. 183-192.
• Henderson, G.M., Achterberg, E.P., Bopp, L. Changing Trace Element Cycles in the 21st Century Ocean (2018) Elements, 14 (6).
• Bridgestock, L., Hsieh, Y.-T., Porcelli, D., Homoky, W.B., Bryan, A., Henderson, G.M. Controls on the barium isotope compositions of marine sediments (2018) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 481, pp. 101-110.
• Renforth, P., Henderson, G.M. Assessing ocean alkalinity for carbon sequestration (2017) Reviews of Geophysics, 55 (3), pp. 636-674.