Professor Philip Barker

Director, Professor

Research Overview

Phil addresses big environmental questions using the ecology and chemistry of microscopic organisms. His focus is on using diatoms and stable isotope methods to explore changes in climate, biogeochemical cycling and water quality changes.

He has spent much of the last 25 years working in Africa investigating long term climate change from lake sediment archives. Parallel studies have been conducted in the Lake District examining water quality and ecological changes in lakes and rivers.

Published Research

Phil has published more than 100 papers and book chapters including six in Nature and Science.

His most recent work explores the long term evolution of climate on Kilimanjaro using oxygen, silicon and carbon isotopes from the remains of diatoms in the sediments of Lake Challa, a 97m deep volcanic crater. He is also investigating changes in the carbon cycle of freshwater ecosystems using carbon isotopes from contemporary biofilms in lakes and rivers.

Phil has received funding for his work from:

  • Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC)
  • International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Current research

Phil’s current research projects include:

He co-leads the Eden Demonstration test catchment with particular responsibility for biomonitoring

Phil’s PhD students are using diatoms and isotope methods in biomonitoring and studies of environmental change. Current projects include: land use and climate variability in the Lake District; biomonitoring of UK rivers; climate change from Iberian speleothem; and carbon release from Icelandic glaciers.


Phil is currently:


Phil’s current teaching roles include:

He has examined more than 25 PhD students from different UK and international universities.

Major agricultural changes required to mitigate phosphorus losses under climate change
Ockenden, M.C., Hollaway, M.J., Beven, K.J., Collins, A., Evans, R., Falloon, P., Forber, K.J., Hiscock, K., Kahana, R., Macleod, K., Tych, W., Villamizar, M., Wearing, C.L., Withers, P., Zhou, J., Barker, P.A., Burke, S., Freer, J., Johnes, P., Snell, M., Surridge, B.W.J., Haygarth, P.M. 31/07/2017 In: Nature Communications. 8, 8 p.
Journal article

Hominin sites and Palaeolakes Drilling Project: testing hypotheses of climate-driven human evolution and dispersal at Chew Bahir, Ethiopia
Lamb, H., Barker, P.A. 6/06/2016
Meeting abstract

Quaternary palaeoenvironmental proxies and processes : papers in honour of Professor Alayne Street-Perrott
Holmes, J.A., Barker, P.A., Leng, M. 31/05/2016 In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 31, 4, 5 p.

Interpretation and application of carbon isotope ratios in freshwater diatom silica
Webb, M., Barker, P.A., Wynn, P.M., Heiri, O., van Hardenbroek, M., Frances, P., Russell, J., Stott, A.W., Leng, M. 05/2016 In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 31, 4, p. 300-309. 10 p.
Journal article

North Atlantic forcing of moisture delivery to Europe throughout the Holocene
Smith, A., Wynn, P.M., Barker, P.A., Leng, M., Noble, S., Tych, W. 25/04/2016 In: Scientific Reports. 6, 7 p.
Journal article

Wettest December in the Lake District for over 200 years
Wilby, R.L., Barker, P.A. 7/03/2016 In: Weather. 71, 3, 1 p.

An experiment to assess the effects of diatom dissolution on oxygen isotope ratios
Smith, A., Barker, P.A., Leng, M., Swann, G., Mackay, A., Ryves, D., Sloane, H.J., Chenery, S.R., Hems, M. 30/01/2016 In: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 30, 2, p. 293-300. 8 p.
Journal article

Cave monitoring and the potential for palaeoclimate reconstruction from Cueva de Asiul, Cantabria (N. Spain)
Smith, A., Wynn, P., Barker, P., Leng, M., Noble, S., Stott, A. 01/2016 In: International Journal of Speleology. 45, 1, p. 1-9. 9 p.
Journal article

Orbital forcing of glacial/interglacial variations in chemical weathering and silicon cycling within the upper White Nile basin, East Africa: stable isotope and biomarker evidence from Lakes Victoria and Edward
Cockerton, H.E., Street-Perrott, F.A., Barker, P., Leng, M., Sloane, H.J., Ficken, K.J. 15/12/2015 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 130, p. 57-71. 15 p.
Journal article

Drip water electrical conductivity as an indicator of cave ventilation at the event scale
Smith, A., Wynn, P., Barker, P., Leng, M. 1/11/2015 In: Science of the Total Environment. 532, p. 517-527. 11 p.
Journal article

Seasonal release of anoxic geothermal meltwater from the Katla volcanic system at Sólheimajökull, Iceland
Wynn, P., Morrell, D., Tuffen, H., Barker, P., Tweed, F., Burns, R. 9/03/2015 In: Chemical Geology. 396, p. 228-238. 11 p.
Journal article

Contrasting effects of nutrients and climate on algal communities in two lakes in the Windermere catchment since the late 19th century
Moorhouse, H., McGowan, S., Jones, M., Barker, P., Leavitt, P., Brayshaw, S., Haworth, E.Y. 12/2014 In: Freshwater Biology. 59, 12, p. 2605-2620. 16 p.
Journal article

Quaternary climatic instability in south-east Australia from a multi-proxy speleothem record
Webb, M., Dredge, J., Barker, P., Mueller, W., Jex, C., Desmarchelier, J., Hellstrom, J., Wynn, P. 8/08/2014 In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 29, 6, p. 589-596. 8 p.
Journal article

High frequency variability of environmental drivers determining benthic community dynamics in headwater streams
Snell, M., Barker, P., Surridge, B., Large, A., Jonczyk, J., Benskin, C., Reaney, S.M., Perks, M., Owen, G., Cleasby, W., Deasy, C., Haygarth, P. 07/2014 In: Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts. 16, 7, p. 1629-1636. 8 p.
Journal article

Carbon cycling within an East African lake revealed by the carbon isotope composition of diatom silica: a 25-ka record from Lake Challa, Mt. Kilimanjaro
Barker, P., Hurrell, E., Leng, M., Plessen, B., Wolff, C., Conley, D., Keppens, E., Milne, I., Cumming, B., Laird, K., Kendrick, C., Wynn, P., Verschuren, D. 15/04/2013 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 66, p. 55-63. 9 p.
Journal article

Stable-isotope (H, O, and Si) evidence for seasonal variations in hydrology and Si cycling from modern waters in the Nile Basin: implications for interpreting the Quaternary record
Cockerton, H.E., Street-Perrott, F.A., Leng, M.J., Barker, P.A., Horstwood, M.S.A., Pashley, V. 15/04/2013 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 66, p. 4-21. 18 p.
Journal article

Catchment productivity controls CO2 emissions from lakes
Maberly, S.C., Barker, P.A., Stott, A.W., De Ville, M.M. 04/2013 In: Nature Climate Change. 3, 4, 4 p.

Climate, catchment runoff and limnological drivers of carbon and oxygen isotope composition of diatom frustules from the central Andean Altiplano during the Lateglacial and Early Holocene
Hernandez, A., Bao, R., Giralt, S., Saez, A., Leng, M.J., Barker, P.A., Kendrick, C.P., Sloane, H.J. 2013 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 66, p. 64–73. 10 p.
Journal article

Natural and anthropogenic factors which influence aerosol distribution in Ingleborough Show Cave, UK
Smith, A.C., Wynn, P.M., Barker, P.A. 2013 In: International Journal of Speleology. 42, 1, p. 49-56. 8 p.
Journal article

Contribution of sediment focussing to heterogeneity of organic carbon and phosphorus burial in small lakes
Mackay, E., Jones, I., Folkard, A., Barker, P. 02/2012 In: Freshwater Biology. 57, 2, p. 290-304. 15 p.
Journal article

Humans and climate as drivers of algal community change in Windermere since 1850
McGowan, S., Barker, P., Haworth, E.Y., Leavitt, P.R., Maberly, S.C., Pates, J. 02/2012 In: Freshwater Biology. 57, 2, p. 260-277. 18 p.
Journal article

Seasonality in equatorial climate over the past 25 k.y. revealed by oxygen isotope records from Mount Kilimanjaro
Barker, P.A., Hurrell, E.R., Leng, M.J., Wolff, C., Cocquyt, C., Sloane, H.J., Verschuren, D. 12/2011 In: Geology. 39, 12, p. 1111-1114. 4 p.
Journal article

Developing a methodology for carbon isotope analysis of lacustrine diatoms
Hurrell, E.R., Barker, P.A., Leng, M.J., Vane, C.H., Wynn, P., Kendrick, C.P., Verschuren, D., Street-Perrott, F.A. 15/06/2011 In: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 25, 11, p. 1567-1574. 8 p.
Journal article

Biogeochemical processes controlling oxygen and carbon isotopes of diatom silica in Late Glacial to Holocene lacustrine rhythmites
Hernandez, A., Bao, R., Giralt, S., Barker, P.A., Leng, M.J., Sloane, H.J., Saez, A. 15/01/2011 In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 299, 3-4, p. 413-425. 13 p.
Journal article

ENSO and solar activity signals from oxygen isotopes in diatom silica during late glacial-Holocene transition in Central Andes (18A degrees S)
Hernandez, A., Giralt, S., Bao, R., Saez, A., Leng, M.J., Barker, P.A. 08/2010 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 44, 2, p. 413-429. 17 p.
Journal article

Half-precessional dynamics of monsoon rainfall near the East African Equator
Verschuren, D., Damste, J.S.S., Moernaut, J., Kristen, I., Blaauw, M., Fagot, M., Haug, G.H., Members, C.P., Barker, P. 3/12/2009 In: Nature. 462, 7273, 5 p.

Half-precessional dynamics of monsoon rainfall near the East African equator: implications for Indian Ocean ITCZ migration over the past 25,000 years
Verschuren, D., Damste, J.S.S., Moernaut, J., Kristen, I., Blaauw, M., Fagot, M., Haug, G.H., Members, C.P., Barker, P. 06/2009 In: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 73, 13 Supplement, p. A1380-A1380. 1 p.
Journal article

Sediment dynamics in an upland temperate catchment : changing sediment sources, rates and deposition.
Hatfield, R., Maher, B., Pates, J., Barker, P. 11/2008 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 40, 4, p. 1143-1158. 16 p.
Journal article

Validation of diatoms as proxies for phytobenthos when assessing ecological status in lakes
Kelly, M.G., King, L., Jones, R.I., Barker, P.A., Jamieson, B.J. 09/2008 In: Hydrobiologia. 610, 1, p. 125-129. 5 p.
Journal article

Biogenic silica: a neglected component of the coupled global continental biogeochemical cycles of carbon and silicon
Street-Perrott, F.A., Barker, P.A. 08/2008 In: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 33, 9, p. 1436-1457. 22 p.
Journal article

Isotopes in biogenic silica (IBiS)
Leng, M.J., Street-Perrott, F.A., Barker, P.A. 05/2008 In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 23, 4, 2 p.

The palaeohydrological evolution of Lago Chungara (Andean Altiplano, northern Chile) during the Lateglacial and early Holocene using oxygen isotopes in diatom silica
Hernandez, A., Bao, R., Giralt, S., Leng, M.J., Barker, P.A., Saez, A., Pueyo, J.J., Moreno, A., Valero-Garces, B.L., Sloane, H.J. 05/2008 In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 23, 4, p. 351-363. 13 p.
Journal article

Towards an understanding of late Quaternary variations in the continental biogeochemical cycle of silicon: multi-isotope and sediment-flux data for Lake Rutundu, Mt Kenya, East Africa, since 38 ka BP
Street-Perrott, F.A., Barker, P.A., Leng, M.J., Sloane, H.J., Wooller, M.J., ficken, K.J., Swain, D.L. 05/2008 In: Journal of Quaternary Science. 23, 4, p. 375-387. 13 p.
Journal article

Century-to-millennial scale climatic variability in Lake Malawi revealed by isotope records.
Barker, P.A., Leng, M.J., Gasse, F., Huang, Y. 09/2007 In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 261, 1-2, p. 93-103. 11 p.
Journal article

A high-resolution study of diatom oxygen isotopes in a Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene laminated record from Lake Chungara' (Andean Altiplano, Northern Chile)
Hernandez, A., Bao, R., Giralt, S., Leng, M.J., Barker, P., Pueyo, J.J., Saez, A., Moreno, A., Valero-Garces, B., Sloane, H.J. 08/2007 In: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 71, 15 Supplement, p. A398-A398. 1 p.
Journal article

Late Quaternary changes in ecosystems and carbon cycling on Mt. Kenya, East Africa: a landscape-ecological perspective based on multi-proxy lake-sediment influxes.
Street-Perrott, F.A., Barker, P.A., Swain, D.L., Ficken, K.J., Wooller, M.J., Olago, D.O., Huang, Y. 07/2007 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 26, 13-14, p. 1838-1860. 23 p.
Journal article

Atmospheric science - The monsoon's past
Barker, P.A. 06/2007 In: Science. 316, 5829, p. 1295-1296. 2 p.
Journal article

A review of the oxygen isotope composition of lacustrine diatom silica for palaeoclimate reconstruction
Leng, M.J., Barker, P.A. 03/2006 In: Earth-Science Reviews. 75, 1-4, p. 5-27. 23 p.
Journal article

DIATOM METHODS | δ18O Records.
Leng, M., Barker, P. 2006 In: Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science. Elsevier 10 p.
Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Organic inclusions in lacustrine diatom frustules as a host for carbon and nitrogen isotopes
King, L., Barker, P.A., Grey, J. 2006 In: International Association of Theoretical and Applied Limnology, Vol 29, Pt 3, Proceedings. E. Schweizerbart p. 1608-1610. 3 p. ISBN: 3-510-54067-0, 978-3-510-54067-9.

Late Quaternary volcanic record from lakes of Michoacan, central Mexico
Newton, A.J., Metcalfe, S.E., Davies, S.J., Cook, G., Barker, P., Telford, R.J. 01/2005 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 24, 1-2, p. 91-104. 14 p.
Journal article

Late quaternary and holocene volcanic record preserved in lakes of Michoacán, central Mexico.
Newton, A.J., Metcalfe, S.E., Davies, S.J., Cook, G., Barker, P.A., Telford, R.J. 01/2005 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 24, 1-2, p. 91-104. 14 p.
Journal article

Changing nutrient levels in Grasmere, English Lake District, during recent centuries.
Barker, P.A., Pates, J.M., Payne, R.J., Healey, R.M. 2005 In: Freshwater Biology. 50, 12, p. 1971-1981. 11 p.
Journal article

Lacustrine response to tephra deposition: examples from Mexico.
Telford, R.J., Barker, P.A., Metcalfe, S.E., Newton, A. 12/2004 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 23, 23-24, p. 2337-2353. 17 p.
Journal article

The potential of oxygen isotopes in diatoms as a palaeoclimate indicator in lake sediments.
Lamb, A.L., Leng, M.J., Barker, P.A., Morley, D.W. 04/2004 In: PAGES News: Science Highlights. 12, 1, p. 6-8. 3 p.
Journal article

A 200 year precipitation index for the Central English Lake District.
Barker, P.A., Wilby, R.L., Borrows, J. 2004 In: Hydrological Sciences Journal. 49, 5, p. 769-785. 17 p.
Journal article

Climate variability in Europe and Africa during PAGES-PEPIII times stream II : a synthesis.
Partridge, T.C., Lowe, J.J., Barker, P.A., Hoelzmann, P., Magri, D., Saarnisto, M., Vandenberghe, J. 2004 In: Past climate variability through Europe and Africa : developments in paleoenvironmental research. Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Publishers p. 583-603. 21 p. ISBN: 978-1-4020-2120-6.

Holocene climate variability in Europe and Africa : a PAGES-PEPIII time stream 1 sythesis.
Verschuren, D., Briffa, K., Hoelzmann, P., Barker, P.A., Scott, L., Barber, K., Snowball, I., Roberts, N. 2004 In: Past climate variability through Europe and Africa : developments in paleoenvironmental research. Dordrecht : Kluwer Academic Publishers p. 567-582. 16 p. ISBN: 978-1-4020-2120-6.

Late quartenary climatic variability in intertropical Africa.
Barker, P.A., Talbot, M.R., Street-Perrott, F.A., Marret, F., Scourse, J.D., Odada, E. 2004 In: Past climate variability through Europe and Africa. Netherlands : Springer p. 117-138. 22 p. ISBN: 1402021208.

Climatic and volcanic forcing revealed in a 50,000 year diatom record from Lake Massoko, Tanzania.
Barker, P.A., Williamson, D., Gasse, F., Gibert, E. 11/2003 In: Quaternary Research. 60, 3, p. 368-376. 9 p.
Journal article

New evidence for a reduced water balance in East Africa during the Last Glacial Maximum: Implication for model-data comparison.
Barker, P., Gasse, F. 04/2003 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 22, 8-9, p. 823-837. 15 p.
Journal article

Environmental changes in a tropical lake (Lake Abiyata, Ethiopia) during recent centuries
Legesse, D., Gasse, F., Radakovitch, O., Vallet-Coulomb, C., Bonnefille, R., Verschuren, D., Gibert, E., Barker, P. 15/11/2002 In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 187, 3-4, p. 233-258. 26 p.
Journal article

Late Pleistocene and Holocene palaeohydrology of Lake Rukwa, Tanzania, inferred from diatom analysis
Barker, P., Telford, R., Gasse, F., Thevenon, F. 15/11/2002 In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 187, 3-4, p. 295-305. 11 p.
Journal article

A High Resolution Paleoclimate Record Spanning the Past 25,000 Years in Southern East Africa.
Barker, P.A., Brown, E., Johnson, T.C., McManus, J. 1/04/2002 In: Science. 296, p. 113-132. 20 p.
Journal article

Seasonal variation in the epilithic algal communities from four lakes of different trophic state
King, L., Jones, R.I., Barker, P. 2002 In: Archiv für Hydrobiologie. 154, 2, p. 177-198. 22 p.
Journal article

Spatial variation in epilithic algal communities around an oligotrophic and a mesotrophic lake in the English Lake District
King, L., Jones, R., Barker, P. 2002 In: Verhandlungen IVL. E. Schweizerbart p. 455-461. 7 p. ISBN: 978-3-510-54060-0.
Conference contribution

Oxygen isotope analysis of diatom silica and authigenic calcite from Lake Pinarbasi, Turkey
Leng, M., Barker, P., Greenwood, P., Roberts, N., Reed, J. 04/2001 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 25, 3, p. 343-349. 7 p.
Journal article

A 14,000-year oxygen isotope record from diatom silica in two alpine lakes on Mt. Kenya.
Barker, P., Street-Perrott, F.A., Leng, M.J., Greenwood, P.B., Swain, D.L., Perrott, R.A., Telford, R.J., Ficken, K.J. 2001 In: Science. 292, 5525, p. 2307-2310. 4 p.
Journal article

Diatom palaeoproductivity from a high-altitude lake on Mt. Kenya: preliminary results from Lake Rutundu.
Barker, P., Street-Perrott, F., Perrott, R., Ficken, K., Swain, D. 2001 In: SIL Congress 2000, Proceedings. E. Schweizerbart p. 1003-1007. 5 p. ISBN: 978-3-510-54053-2.
Conference contribution

Epilithic algal communities and their relationship to environmental variables in lakes of the English Lake District.
King, L., Barker, P., Jones, R.I. 12/2000 In: Freshwater Biology. 45, 4, p. 425-442. 18 p.
Journal article

The sensitivity of a Tanzanian crater lake to catastrophic tephra input and four millennia of climate change
Barker, P., Telford, R., Merdaci, O., Williamson, D., Taieb, M., Vincens, A., Gibert, E. 04/2000 In: Holocene. 10, 3, p. 303-310. 8 p.
Journal article

The philosophy of empowerment.
Barker, P., Stevenson, C., Leamy, M. 2000 In: Mental Health Nursing. 20, 9, p. 8-12. 5 p.
Journal article

Lake evolution in a semi-arid montane environment: response to catchment change and hydroclimatic variation
Lamb, H., Roberts, N., Leng, M., Barker, P., Benkaddour, A., van der Kaars, S. 03/1999 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 21, 3, p. 325-343. 19 p.
Journal article

Periphyton response to nutrient manipulation at Wastwater (English Lake District).
King, L., Jones, R.I., Barker, P. 1999 In: Journal of Phycology. 52, Supple, p. 11.
Journal article

Impact of lower atmospheric carbon dioxide on tropical mountain ecosystems
StreetPerrott, F.A., Huang, Y.S., Perrott, R.A., Eglinton, G., Barker, P., BenKhelifa, L., Harkness, D.D., Olago, D.O. 21/11/1997 In: Science. 278, 5342, p. 1422-1426. 5 p.
Journal article

Diatom-inferred salinity in palaeolakes: An indirect tracer of climate change
Gasse, F., Barker, P., Gell, P.A., Fritz, S.C., Chalie, F. 1997 In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 16, 6, p. 547-563. 17 p.
Journal article

Interpretation of Holocene lake-level change from diatom assemblages in Lake Sidi Ali, Middle Atlas, Morocco
Barker, P., Roberts, N., Lamb, H.F., Van Der Kaars, S., Benkaddour, A. 12/1994 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 12, 3, p. 223-234. 12 p.
Journal article

The Holocene history of West Basin Lake, Victoria, Australia; chemical changes based on fossil biota and sediment mineralogy
Gell, P.A., Barker, P., De Deckker, P., Last, W.M., Jelici, L. 12/1994 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 12, 3, p. 235-258. 24 p.
Journal article

Abrupt Holocene Hydro-Climatic Events - Paleolimnological evidence from North-West Africa
Roberts, N., Lamb, H.F., Elhamouti, N., Barker, P. 1994 In: Environmental change in drylands : . Chichester : WileyBlackwell p. 163-175. 13 p.
Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Experimental dissolution of diatom silica in concentrated salt solutions and implications for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.
Barker, P., Fontes, J., Gasse, F., Druart, J.C. 1994 In: Limnology and Oceanography. 39, 1, p. 99-110. 12 p.
Journal article

Timing of the Younger Dryas event in East Africa from lake-level changes.
Roberts, N., Taieb, M., Barker, P., Damnati, B., Icole, M., Williamson, D. 11/11/1993 In: Nature. 366, 6451, p. 146-148. 3 p.
Journal article

Differential diatom dissolution in late quaternary sediments from Lake Manyara, Tanzania: An experimental approach
Barker, P. 01/1992 In: Journal of Paleolimnology. 7, 3, p. 235-251. 17 p.
Journal article

Histoire paléohydrologique du lac Magadi (Kenya) au Pleistocène superièur.
Taieb, M., Barker, P., Bonnefille, R., Damnati, B., Gasse, F., Goetz, C., Marcel, C.H., Icole, M., Massault, M., Roberts, N., Vincens, A., Williamson, D. 1991 In: Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences - Series IIB - Mechanics. 313, 3, p. 339-346. 8 p.
Journal article

Taphonomy and diagenesis of diatom assemblages.
Barker, P., Gasse, F., Roberts, N., Taieb, M. 1991 In: Hydrobiologia. 214, p. 267-272. 6 p.
Journal article