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Andy Baker, nominated in 2021 for sustained excellence in water and climate science, especially the use of chemical tracers including applications to speleothem palaeoclimatology
  • Andy Baker
Andy Baker
University of New South Wales

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


My earth science focused PhD research included the analysis of annual fluorescent laminae in cave stalagmites, under the supervision of karst hydrologist Peter Smart (Bristol, UK). At the time, the source of this fluorescence was uncertain, opening new research opportunities characterizing what is now understood to be soil-derived, water-soluble fluorescent dissolved and colloidal organic matter that is transported to the cave by vadose zone percolation waters. Aquatic organic matter fluorescence research benefitted at this time from significant laboratory analytical advances that were commercially driven, including Sony’s Blu-ray technology and the use of fluorescent labelling in the biomedical sciences. Faster analyses at increasingly higher energy excitation energies opened opportunities for novel fingerprinting of organic matter in hydrological science, including landfill leachates and sewage contamination. Today, hand-held fluorescence sensors can instantaneously determine microbial water quality. And back in the field of speleothem (cave deposit) science, annual geochemical laminae are now recognized to be widely preserved in regions where there is a seasonality in recharge, providing a precise chronology for the stalagmite paleoenvironmental archive. Currently, we are utilizing this precise chronology to generate high-resolution fire history records, where the fire proxy is water-soluble ash-derived elements transported from soil to cave by vadose zone percolation waters.