School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Jon Telling

Lecturer in Geochemistry/Geomicrobiology



I'm a geochemist/geomicrobiologist with a primary research focus on the role of (bio)geochemistry in controlling carbon and nutrient cycling in the cryosphere of Earth and other planetary bodies.



Google Scholar:


After graduating as a geologist (Durham University), I completed an M.Sc. in Geochemistry (University of Leeds) followed by a Ph.D. on the geomicrobiology of metal deposits in the deep ocean (University of Bristol). This was followed by a postdoctoral position at the University of Toronto (affiliated to the NASA Astrobiology Initiative) examining sources of gases in ancient fluids trapped within Canadian Precambrian Shield rocks. I then returned to the UK to join the Bristol Glaciology Centre (University of Bristol), where I carried out research in Greenland, Antarctica, and Svalbard on how life on and below glaciers and ice sheets impact local and regional biogeochemical cycles. I started my current position as Lecturer in Geochemistry/Geomicrobiology at Newcastle University in August 2016, where I have started a research group focused on terrestrial and extraterrestrial (bio)geochemical cycling in cold environments.


Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Member of American Geophysical Union

Member of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain

Member of the Astrobiology Society of Britain


Research interests

I'm a member of the Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences (EOPS) group within the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. My primary research interests are biogeochemical cycling within the terrestrial cryosphere (with ongoing projects in Antarctica and the Himalayas), and the geochemistry/ potential habitability of cold environments eleswhere in the solar system.

Ongoing projects include:

1. Quantifying the impact of aeolian erosion on the trace gas composition of the Martian atmosphere, linked to the ongoing European Space Agency/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. See further details at the REGRIND webpage: 

2. Investigating the role of aeolian erosion on Mars in altering the organic composition of Martian surface sediments, to aid the interpretation of ExoMars 2020 rover data 

3. Investigating the role of subglacial mechanochemistry (crushing induced reactions) in sustaining life under glaciers and ice sheets (collaborating with US led subglacial Lake Mercer Antarctic drilling mission).

4.  Investigating the role of microorganisms on Himalayan glaciers in controlling nutrient flows and ice melt rates (UK-India Education Research Initiative)

5. Assessing the impact of recent climate change on SW Greenland terrestrial ecosystems (

6. Quantifying the role of UV radiation in controlling the geochemistry and microbial ecology of icy environments on Earth and Mars

Current Funded Grants

2019-2020 Principal Investigator. A photo(bio)reactor for research on icy environments on Earth and Mars. Royal Society Research Grant, £20K.

2018-2021 Co-Principal Investigator. (P.I.: M. Tranter, University of Bristol). CRUSH2LIFE. NERC, £721,000.

2017-2021 Principal Investigator. tRacE MIneral Interactions During Aeolian Erosion On Mars (REGRIND). UK Space Agency Aurora Programme, £307,404 

2018-2022 Principal Investigator.    The impact of Aeolian ABRAsion on the transformation of organic matter and Detectability by the ExoMars 2020 MOMA instrument (ABRADE). UK Space Agency Aurora Programme, £87,273.

2017-2020 Project Partner (P.I. Prof. Jemma Wadham, University of Bristol).  Bio-Climate Feedbacks of Melting Himalayan Ice. UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI).

Esteem indicators

2018 - Committee Member of the Geomicrobiology Network, Mineralogical Society of Great Britain

2018 - Committee Member of the Astrobiology Society of Britain

2016 - Guest Associate Editor of Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research Special Issue 'Environmental change impacts in the Kangerlussuaq area, West Greenland'

2015 to present - Invited member of KAngerlussuaq International Research Network (KAIRN), including workshops at Norway (2017),  Acadia National Park US (May 2016) and Loughborough (May 2015).

2015 - Talk at 6th Polar and Alpine Microbiology conference, Czech Republic

2013 - Invited talk and session convenor at 5th Polar and Alpine Microbiology conference, Montana, US.

2012 - Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America (NSF)

2011 - Invited member of the US Long Term Ecological Research programme in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

2011 - Invited talk at NSINK (Sources, sinks and impacts of atmospheric nitrogen deposition in the Arctic, Chair A. Hodson), Obergurgl, Austria.


2018 - 'Melting ice sheets release tons of methane into the atmosphere' -

2015 - "Ice 'lightning' may have helped life survive when Earth was covered in glaciers", in "The Conversation", Oct 30, http://the

2014 - "Scientists say melting ice sheets are dumping plankton-boosting iron into earth's oceans that could even help capture carbon", Daily Mail online, 21 May (co-author)

2013 - Aided BBC Natural History Unit filming ice crystal formation in experimental cold rooms for documentaries

2012 - "Billions of Tons of Methane Lurk Beneath Antarctic Ice", livescience online magazine, Aug 29 (co-author)

2010 - Role in NERC funded film 'Life on ice' made to promote science to school children


Current teaching (2017/2018)

Module leader - CEG2604 (Global Element Cycling), 10 credits

Module leader - CEG2607 (Geomicrobiology), 10 credits

Module leader - CEG3699 (Earth Science Research Project), 30 credits

Module leader - CEG3690 (Earth Science Group Project), 30 credits


  • Lamarche-Gagnon G, Wadham JL, Sherwood-Lollar B, Arndt S, Fietzek P, Beaton AD, Tedstone AJ, Telling J, Bagshaw EA, Hawkings JR, Kohler TJ, Zarsky JD, Mowlem MC, Anesio AM, Stibal M. Greenland melt drives continuous export of methane from the ice-sheet bed. Nature 2019, 565, 73-77.
  • Hatton JE, Hendry KR, Hawkings JR, Wadham JL, Kohler TJ, Stibal M, Beaton A, Bagshaw EA, Telling J. Investigation of subglacial weathering under the Greenland Ice Sheet using silicon isotopes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 2019, 247, 191-206.
  • Macdonald ML, Wadham JL, Telling J, Skidmore ML. Glacial erosion liberates lithologic energy sources for microbes and acidity for chemical weathering beneath glaciers and ice sheets. Frontiers in Earth Science 2018, 6, 212.
  • Cockell CS, Holt J, Campbell J, Groseman H, Josset J-L, Bontognali TRR, Phelps A, Hakobyan L, Kuretn L, Beattie A, Blank J, Bonaccorsi R, McKay C, Shirvastava A, Stoker C, Willson D, McLaughlin S, Payler S, Stevens A, Wadsworth J, Bessone L, Maurer M, Sauro F, Martin-Torres J, Zorzano M-P, Bhardwaj A, Soria-Salinas A, Mathanlal T, Nazarious MI, Ramachandran AV, Vaishampayan P, Guan L, Perl SM, Telling J, Boothroyd IM, Tyson O, Realff J, Rowbottom J, Lauernt B, Gunn M, Shah S, Singh S, Paling S, Edwards T, Yeoman L, Meehan E, Toth C, Scovell P, Suckling B. Subsurface scientific exploration of extraterrestrial environments (MINAR 5): analogue science, technology and education in the Boulby Mine, UK. International Journal of Astrobiology 2018, Epub ahead of print.
  • Musilova M, Tranter M, Wadham JL, Telling J, Tedstone A, Anesio AM. Microbially-driven export of organic matter from the Greenland ice sheet. Nature Geoscience 2017, 10, 360-365.
  • Anderson NJ, Saros JE, Bullard JE, Cahoon SMP, McGowan S, Bagshaw EA, Barry CD, Bindler R, Burpee BT, Carrivick JL, Fowler RA, Fox AD, Fritz SC, Giles ME, Hamerlik L, Ingeman-Nielsen T, Law AC, Mernild SH, Northington RM, Osburn CL, Pla-Rabès S, Post E, Telling J, Stroud DA, Whiteford EJ, Yallop ML, Yde JC. The Arctic in the Twenty-First Century: Changing Biogeochemical Linkages across a Paraglacial Landscape of Greenland. BioScience 2017, 67(2), 118-133.
  • Nixon SL, Telling J, Wadham JL, Cockell CS. Viable cold-tolerant iron-reducing microorganisms in geographically diverse subglacial environments. Biogeosciences 2017, 14(6), 1445–1455.
  • Bradley JA, Arndt S, Sabacka M, Benning LG, Barker GL, Blacker JJ, Yallop ML, Wright KE, Bellas CM, Telling J, Tranter M, Anesio AM. Microbial dynamics in a High Arctic glacier forefield: a combined field, laboratory, and modelling approach. Biogeosciences 2016, 13(19), 5677-5696.
  • Telling J, Voglesonger K, Sutcliffe C, Lacrampe-Couloume G, Edwards E, Sherwood-Lollar B. Bioenergetic constraints on microbial hydrogen utilization in Precambrian deep crustal fracture fluids. Geomicrobiology Journal 2018, 35(2), 108-119.
  • Cameron KA, Stibal M, Hawkings JR, Mikkelsen AB, Telling J, Kohler TJ, Gözdereliler E, Zarsky JD, Wadham JL, Jacobsen CS. Meltwater export of prokaryotic cells from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Environmental Microbiology 2017, 19(2), 524-534.
  • Wadham JL, Hawkings JR, Telling J, Chandler D, Alcock J, Lawson E, Kaur P, Bagshaw E, Tranter M, Tedstone A, Niewnow P. Sources, cycling and export of nitrogen on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Biogeosciences 2016, 13(22), 6339-6352.
  • Hawkings J, Wadham JL, Tranter M, Telling J, Bagshaw E, Beaton A, Simmons S-L, Chandler D, Tedstone A, Niewnow P. The Greenland Ice Sheet as a hot spot of phosphorus weathering and export in the Arctic. Global Change Biology 2016, 30, 191-210.
  • Telling J, Boyd E, Bone N, Jones E, Tranter M, MacFarlane J, Martin P, Wadham J, Lamarche-Gagnon G, Skidmore M, Hamilton T, Hill E, Jackson M, Hodgson D. Rock comminution as a source of hydrogen for subglacial ecosystems. Nature Geoscience 2015, 8, 851-855.
  • Chandler DM, Alcock JD, Wadham JL, Mackie SL, Telling J. Seasonal changes of ice surface characteristics and productivity in the ablation zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The Cryosphere 2015, 9(2), 487-504.
  • Hawkings JR, Wadham JL, Tranter M, Lawson E, Sole A, Cowton T, Tedstone AJ, Bartholomew I, Niewnow P, Chandler D, Telling J. The effect of warming climate on nutrient and solute export from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Geochemical Perspectives Letters 2015, 1, 94-104.
  • Hawkings JR, Wadham JL, Tranter M, Raiswell R, Benning LG, Statham P, Tedstone A, Niewnow P, Lee K, Telling J. Ice sheets as a significant source of highly reactive nanoparticulate iron to the oceans. Nature Communications 2014, 5, 3929.
  • Telling J, Anesio AM, Tranter M, Fountain A, Nylen T, Hawkings J, Singh VB, Kaur P, Musilova M, Wadham JL. Spring thaw ionic pulses boost nutrient availability and microbial growth in entombed Antarctic Dry Valley cryoconite holes. Frontiers in Microbiology 2014, 5, 694.
  • Chandler D, Lis G, Cowton T, Sole A, Bartholomew I, Telling J, Niewnow P, Bagshaw E, Mair D, Vinen S, Hubbard A. Evolution of the subglacial drainage system beneath Greenland's ice sheet revealed by tracers. Nature Geoscience 2013, 6, 195-198.
  • Telling J, Lacrampe-Couloume G, Sherwood-Lollar B. Carbon and Hydrogen Isotopic Composition of Methane and C2+ Alkanes in Electrical Spark Discharge: Implications for Identifying Sources of Hydrocarbons in Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Settings. Astrobiology 2013, 13(5), 483-490.
  • Bellas CM, Anesio AMB, Telling J, Stibal M, Tranter M, Davis SA. Viral impacts on bacterial communities in Arctic cryoconite. Environmental Research Letters 2013, 8, 045021.
  • Cook JM, Hodson AM, Anesio AM, Hanna E, Yallop M, Stibal M, Telling J, Huybrechts P. An improved estimate of microbially mediated carbon fluxes from the Greenland ice sheet. Journal of Glaciology 2012, 58, 1098-1108.
  • Telling J, Anesio AM, Tranter M, Stibal M, Hawkings J, Irvine-Fynn T, Hodson A, Butler C, Yallop M, Wadham JL. Controls on the autochthonous production and respiration of organic matter in cryoconite holes on High Arctic glaciers. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences 2012, 117, G01017.
  • Stibal M, Telling J, Cook J, Mak KM, Hodson A, Anesio AM. Environmental controls on microbial abundance and activity on the Greenland ice sheet: a multivariate approach. Microbial Ecology 2012, 63, 74-84.
  • Bagshaw EA, Stibal M, Anesio A, Bellas C, Tranter M, Telling J, Wadham JL. Glacier surface habitats. In: Bell,E, ed. Life at Extremes: Environments, Organisms and Strategies for Survival. CABI, 2012.
  • Stibal M, Wadham JL, Lis GP, Telling J, Pancost RD, Dubnick A, Sharp MJ, Lawson EC, Butler CEH, Hasan F, Tranter M, Anesio AM. Methanogenic potential of Arctic and Antarctic subglacial environments with contrasting organic carbon sources. Global Change Biology 2012, 18, 3332-3345. In Preparation.
  • Irvine-Fynn TFL, Edwards A, Newton S, Langford H, Rassner SM, Telling J, Anesio AM, Hodson AM. Microbial cell budgets of an Arctic glacier surface quantified using flow cytometery. Environmental Microbiology 2012, 14, 2998-3012.
  • Telling J, Stibal M, Anesio AM, Tranter M, Nias I, Cook J, Lis G, Wadham JL, Sole A, Niewnow P, Hodson A. Microbial nitrogen cycling on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Biogeosciences 2012, 9, 2431-2442.
  • Yallop ML, Anesio AM, Perkins RG, Cook J, Telling J, Fagan D, MacFarlane J, Stibal M, Barker G, Bellas C, Hodson A, Tranter M, Wadham J, Roberts NW. Photophysiology and albedo-changing potential of the ice algae community on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet. ISME Journal 2012, 6, 2302-2313. In Preparation.
  • Wadham JL, Arndt S, Tulaczyk S, Stibal M, Tranter M, Telling J, Lis GP, Lawson E, Ridgewell A, Dubnick A, Sharp MJ, Anesio AM, Butler CEH. Potential methane reservoirs beneath Antarctica. Nature 2012, 488, 633-637.
  • Telling J, Anesio AM, Tranter M, Irvine-Fynn T, Hodson A, Butler C, Wadham J. Nitrogen fixation on Arctic glaciers, Svalbard. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences 2011.
  • Anesio AM, Sattler B, Foreman C, Telling J, Hodson A, Tranter M, Psenner R. Carbon fluxes through bacterial communities on glacier surfaces. Annals of Glaciology 2010, 51, 32-40.
  • Dubnick A, Sharp M, Barker J, Wadham J, Lis G, Telling J, Fitzsimmons S, Jackson M. Characterization of dissolved organic matter (DOM) from glacial environments using total fluorescence spectroscopy and parallel factor analysis. Annals of Glaciology 2010, 51, 111-122.
  • Bagshaw E, Wadham J, Mowlem M, Tranter M, Eveness J, Fountain A, Telling J. Determination of dissolved oxygen in the cryosphere: a comprehensive laboratory and field evaluation of fibre optic sensors. Environmental Science and Technology 2010, 45, 700-705.
  • Telling J, Anesio AM, Hawkings J, Tranter M, Wadham JL, Hodson AJ, Irvine-Fynn T, Yallop ML. Measuring rates of gross photosynthesis and net community production in cryoconite holes: a comparison of methods. Annals of Glaciology 2010, 51, 135-144.
  • Cook J, Hodson A, Telling J, Anesio A, Irvine-Fynn T, Bellas C. The mass-area relationship within cryoconite holes and its implications for primary production. Annals of Glaciology 2010, 51, 106-110.
  • Onstott TC, McGown DJ, Makermans C, Ruskeeniemia T, Ahoneen L, Telling J, Soffientino B, Pfiffner SM, Sherwood-Lollar B, Frape S, Stotler R, Johnson EJ, Vishniveskya TA, Rothmel R, Pratt LM. Microbial communities in subpermafrost saline fracture waters at the Lupin Au mine, Nunavut, Canada. Microbial Ecology 2009, 58, 786-807.
  • Pfiffner SM, Onstott TC, Ruskeeniemi T, Talikka M, Bakermans C, McGown D, Chan E, Johnson A, Phelps TJ, LePuil M, Difurio SA, Pratt LM, Stotler R, Frape S, Telling J, Sherwood-Lollar B, Neill I, Zerbin B. Challenges for coring deep permafrost on Earth and Mars. Astrobiology 2008, 8, 623-628.
  • Sherwood-Lollar B, Voglesonger K, Lin LH, Lacrampe-Couloume G, Telling J, Abrajano TA, Onstott TC, Pratt LM. Hydrogeologic controls on episodic H2 release from Precambrian fractured rocks. Astrobiology 2008, 6, 971-886.
  • Stibal M, Tranter M, Telling J, Benning LG. Speciation, phase association and potential bioavailability of phosphorus on a Svalbard glacier. Biogeochemistry 2008, 90, 1-13.
  • Severmann S, Mills RA, Palmer MR, Telling JP, Cragg B, Parkes RJ. The role of prokaryotes in subsurface weathering of hydrothermal sediments: a combined geochemical and microbiological investigation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 2006, 70, 1677-1694.
  • Telling JP, Hornibrook ERC, Parkes RJ. Microbial reactions in marine sediments. In: Davis,EE and Elderfield,H, ed. Hydrology of the Oceanic Lithosphere. Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp.572-605.
  • Urra A, Wadham J, Hawkings JR, Telling J, Hatton JE, Yde JC, Hasholt B, van As D, Bhatia M, Nienow PW. Weathering dynamics under constrasting hydrological forcing regimes in Greenland Ice Sheet catchments. Frontiers in Earth Science 2019. Submitted.