The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol

Lecturer in Physical Geography


I joined Newcastle University in 2017 after six years as postdoctoral researcher working on a number of projects at the University of Bern and the University of Southampton.

Area of Expertise

Lakes, long-term environmental change, stable isotopes, aquatic invertebrates,  sedimentary DNA, high-latitude environments, wetland archaeology.


2017 -              Lecturer in Physical Geography, Newcastle University, UK
2013 - 2016     Postdoctoral researcher, Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory, University of Southampton, UK
2011 - 2013     Postdoctoral researcher, Aquatic Palaeoecology, University of Bern, Switzerland


2007 - 2011     PhD Palaeoecology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
2005 - 2006     MSc Quaternary Science, Royal Holloway University of London, UK
2002 - 2005     BSc Environmental Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Google Scholar




In my research I aim to understand the processes that cause environmental change – both natural or anthropogenic – and their impacts on aquatic ecosystems. I do this by studying lakes and sediment records from lakes as they contain evidence of environmental change happening over long time periods. Some of my work involves monitoring modern systems, other projects study trends and events in the past 15,000 years. You can find an overview of my research interest and projects below. My study sites include arctic lakes in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, and Siberia, boreal lakes in Alaska, Sweden and Finland, and temperate lakes in the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Climate reconstructions in Siberia and the Russian Far East

Siberia and the Russian Far East (SRFE) comprise a large proportion of all northern lands and contains vast carbon stores in peatlands. It is experiencing rapid climate warming, which means the area plays an important role in global climate processes, yet our understanding of environmental change here is limited. Building stronger links within SRFE and internationally and promoting multi-institution research projects can move the science forward. For this reason, a UK-SRFE knowledge exchange network was started: DIMA (Developing Innovative Multiproxy Analyses—in Siberia and the Russian Far East). An initial workshop in Magadan and a summer school in Tomsk, followed by a workshop in Southampton, brought together palaeoenvironmental scientists from 16 Russian and 10 UK institutions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from lakes – past and present

Lakes and wetlands are the largest natural source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It is still not very well known which processes control these methane emissions. I pioneered the use of stable carbon isotopes of invertebrate remains as a tracer for past methane availability in lakes. A NERC-funded project together with colleagues from the University of Southampton, Bournemouth University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Purdue University will investigate methane production in Alaska lakes at Holocene timescales. My work also includes monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from modern lakes. Pictures from fieldwork here and here.

Aquatic food web structure under stress

Pollution, eutrophication, and fisheries put severe stresses on lake ecosystems. Aquatic food webs can respond to these stressors gradually, but in many lakes the change is rapid and catastrophic once a threshold is passed. Together with colleagues at the Nanjing Institute for Geography and Limnology I study changes in the structure of aquatic food webs. We combine two innovative approaches analysing sedimentary remains: stable isotopes and network analysis. Pictures from fieldwork here and here.

Environmental impact of prehistoric settlements

I am fascinated by prehistoric lake settlements because of their superb preservation in waterlogged conditions. Using new sedaDNA methodology I investigate how crannogs (lake dwellings in Ireland and Scotland) and other lake-side settlements impacted on their environment in an AHRC-funded project. Information from geochemistry and biological remains creates a complete picture of how our ancestors interacted with their environment. Some pictures here.

Arctic lakes as sentinels for climate change

Several positive feedback mechanisms amplify the impact of global warming on biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems in the Arctic. As a result, it is difficult to predict how the Arctic will response to future warming. Lake sediment records contain evidence of the timing and extent of global warming, permafrost thaw, nutrient release, vegetation change, and carbon cycling in the past – crucial for understanding what the future might hold. Fieldwork pictures from Siberia, interior Alaska, Lake Teshekpuk, outreach with schools.

Taxon-specific stable isotope analysis

I'm very interested in developing the use of stable isotopes (H, C, N, O) measured on sedimentary remains of organisms. Stable isotopes can provide detailed information about energy sources, food web structure, and habitat as well as insights into climate and hydrological processes. A special issue of Quaternary Science Reviews related to this topic can be found here. I use remains of chironomids (non-biting midges), cladocerans (water fleas), Coleoptera (beetles), bryozoans (moss animals), and many other groups as well as fish scales and other remains. Pictures of invertebrates and their remains and their remains and laboratory work.