The world underground - caves, karst and speleology. Groundwater - in particular groundwater quality and groundwater recharge in karst limestones. Past climate change - especially from cave stalagmites and stalactites. Organic and inorganic chemistry of water - especially dissolved organic matter and its characterisation. Isotope geochemistry of water and stalagmites
Field of Research (FoR)
I research the water underground - from caves to aquifers. Using stalagmites I reconstruct past climates, past groundwater recharge and past fire history. I characterise organic matter in natural and human environments, from groundwater to drinking water. Common themes include an interdisciplinary scientific approach between the subject areas of Environmental Earth Science and Engineering, and the use of isotopic and geochemical techniques. I...view more
I research the water underground - from caves to aquifers. Using stalagmites I reconstruct past climates, past groundwater recharge and past fire history. I characterise organic matter in natural and human environments, from groundwater to drinking water. Common themes include an interdisciplinary scientific approach between the subject areas of Environmental Earth Science and Engineering, and the use of isotopic and geochemical techniques. I have published over 250 internationally refereed papers to high citation-rate journals including Nature, Science, Nature Communications and Nature Geoscience. I have been awarded, and have successfully managed, over 75 successful research grant applications. I was awarded a Phillip Leverhulme Prize for Geography in 2003, a Millennium Award in 2009, and a Durham University Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship in 2009. My Hirsch index is between 60 (Scopus) and 70 (Google Scholar).
Selected Recent Research Grants
Baker, A and Treble P. Reconstructing Australia's fire history from cave stalagmites. Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2020.
Hartmann, A., Andreo, B., Baker, A., Gleeson, T., Gutierrez, H., Kunstmann, H., Rosolem, R., Wada, Y., Wagener, T. and Zehe, E. Global Assessment of Water Stress in Karst Regions in a Changing World. German Research Foundation (DFG) 2017.
Baker, A, O'Carroll, D, Andersen, M. and Meredith, K. Groundwater organic matter: carbon source or sink? Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2016 www.groundwaterDOC.org
Baker, A, Meredith, K, Pigois, J, Norman, M., Post, V and Shortland-Jones, H. Unlocking the secrets of the groundwater cycle using Si and Li isotopes. Australian Research Council Linkage Project 2015 www.groundwaterLiSi.org
Baker, A, Turney, C, Cartwright, I, Schulmeister, J, Larsen, J, Jenkins, K, Pickford, R, Timms, W. A coupled high temperature elemental analyser - gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer for climate, water and ecological research. ARC LIEF 2014
Baker, A, Meehan, S, Treble, P, Andersen, M, Fairchild, I, Spate, A, Tozer, M and Baker A. To what extent does fire affect karst processes? Burning questions for fire management. ARC Linkage Round 2013
Baker, A., Khan, S.J., Blyth, A.J., Source – receptor analysis of lignin phenols and microbial tetraether membrane lipids in karst to quantify stalagmite biomarker proxies of vegetation and temperature change. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 2011-2014.
Baker, A., Drysdale, R. Frisia, S., Treble, P, Acworth, I., Hua, Q., Herries, A, Meissner, K., and Fink, D. ‘A mass spectrometer to analyse carbonate isotope records of Australia's climate, soil and groundwater history’. Australian Research Council LIEF 2011.
Higher Degree Research Projects
Recent PhD, MPhil and MRes graduates are:
Katie Coleborn (PhD). Wildfire records in cave stalagmites (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO). Expected 2020
Luke McPhan (PhD). Influential factors of larval fish growth rates and condition in light of flow regulation (co-supervised with Kim Jenkins, Paul Humphries (CSU) and Lee Baumgartner (NSW DPI). 2020
Nur Zainuddin (PhD). Groundwater arsenic geochemistry (co-supervised with Martin Andersen). 2020
Liza McDonough (PhD). Groundwater dissolved organic matter (provisional) (co-supervised by Martin Andersen, Denis O’Carroll and Helen Rutlidge). Conferred 2019.
Carol Tadros (PhD). Understanding the trace element proxy in Australian speleothems (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO). Graduated 2019
Bian Fang (MRes). Cave records of environmental change (co-supervised by Pauline Treble, ANSTO and Alison Blyth, Curtin). Graduated. 2018
Katarina David (PhD). Understanding surface water – groundwater connectivity using novel geotechnical and geochemical approaches (co-supervised with Wendy Timms). Graduated 2018.
Eliza Bryan (PhD). Isotope geochemistry of groundwater at Rottnest Island (co-supervised with Karina Meredith (ANSTO), Martin Andersen and Vince Post (Flinders). Graduated 2017.
Alexandra Auhl (MPhil). Microbial activity in hyporheic and groundwater using cotton strips (co-supervised by Martin Andersen, Cameron Holley and Helen Rutlidge). Graduated 2018.
Mohammedreza Keshavarsi (PhD). Novel geochemical and geophysical characterization of fractured rock aquifers (co-supervised with Bryce Kelly. Graduated 2017
Monika Markowska (PhD). Climate – infiltration – speleothem proxy relationship, Harrie Wood Cave (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO). Graduated 2017.
Peter Graham (PhD). Hydrogeology and organic matter characterization of alluvial and fractured rock aquifer systems, Wellington NSW (co-supervised with Martin Andersen). Graduated 2016
Kashif Muhmud (PhD). Novel geostatistical approaches for hydrogeological modeling (co-supervised with Gregoire Mariethoz). Graduated 2015.
Yulia Shutova (PhD). Fluorescence characterization of drinking water dissolved organic matter (co-supervised with R. Henderson). Graduated 2015.
Shahad Aljanabi (PhD). Organic matter fluorescence in drinking water distribution systems (co-supervised with J. Bridgeman). Graduated 2013.
Sahana Harun (PhD). Hydrology and water quality of the Kinabatagan catchment, Borneo (co-supervised with C. Bradley). Graduated 2013.
Jessie Roe (PhD). Organic matter characterization for drinking water treatment (co-supervised with J. Bridgeman). Graduated 2011.
TEACHING & OUTREACH
Courses I teach GEOS2291 Earth's Interconnections (where I teach surface and groundwater geochemistry and water quality). GEOS3733/6733 Environmental Geophysics (where I teach optical geophysics techniques such as fluorescence and absorbance spectroscopy and cavity ringdown mass spectrometry). I also give occasional lectures on GEOS3761 Environmental Change (stalagmites and paleoclimate) and GEOS1211 Environmental Earth Science (coal seam gas). I am also a regular teacher at advanced level short-courses at international conferences, workshops and summer schools.
Professional affiliations and service positions I am the former Director of Research in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, former Connected Water Initiative research centre director, and the former program leader within the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, responsible for research into the ‘innovative characterisation of aquifers and aquitards’. I am an Associate Editor of the journal Water Research. I am an advisory committee member for the NSW State Government.
My Research Supervision
Areas of supervision
Reconstruction of fire history from cave stalagmites - come and join our ARC Discovery Project team. New project starting in 2021.
Karst groundwater hydrology - how much rain is needed to recharge the groundwater? We have evidence from modern hydrology datasets... When was the groundwater recharged in the past? Analyse cave stalagmites to find out.