dr. ir. Francien Peterse
Assistant Professor
Earth Sciences - Organic geochemistry
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Francien Peterse is assistant professor in the Organic Geochemistry group. Her research interests vary from land-sea soil organic carbon transport dynamics, to the reconstruction of past climate change, as well as to method development and validation. The occurrence, distribution, and isotopic composition of specific molecules derived from plants and/or (micro)organisms, or so-called lipid biomarkers, are the most important tools for this work.

Francien is a member of the Utrecht Young Academy since november 2016.


Research highlights (mostly in Dutch):
- Fate of soil OC in the marine environment: report on NICO expedition leg 7 (april 2018)
- Extinction mechanisms of the Late Triassic Carnian crisis: press release Miller et alSci Rep2017
- IODP DeepCHALLA expedition blog (november 2016)


Scientific expertise

Godavari River, India (August 2015, fieldwork VENI research)

ICDP DEEPChalla expedition, Kenya (November 2016)
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Curriculum vitae


2014 - present: Assistant Professor, Universiteit Utrecht, Geochemistry, the Netherlands 

2011 - 2013: Postdoctoral Fellow, ETH-Zürich, Biogeosciences, Switzerland

2007 - 2011: PhD student, Royal NIOZ/UU, the Netherlands

2006: Research Assistant, Wageningen University and Research Center, the Netherlands

1999 - 2006: Study Soil, Water, Atmosphere (specialization Soil Science), Wageningen University and Research Center, the Netherlands



2016: KNAW China Exchange Program

2013: NWO-VENI Postdoctoral Fellowship (€250.000)

2012: ESF-MOLTER Exchange Visit Grant

2011: ETH Postdoctoral Fellowship (CHF197.000)

2011: ESF-MOLTER Young Scientist Travel Award

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All publications
Dearing Crampton-Flood, E.K.L.H., Peterse, F., Munsterman, D.K. & Sinninghe Damste, J.S. (15.05.2018). Using tetraether lipids archived in North Sea Basin sediments to extract North Western European Pliocene continental air temperatures. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 490, (pp. 193-205).
Donders, Timme, Van Helmond, Niels A.G.M., Verreussel, Roel, Munsterman, Dirk, Veen, Johan Ten, Speijer, Robert P., Weijers, Johan W.H., Sangiorgi, Francesca, Peterse, Francien, Reichart, Gert-Jan, Sinninghe Damsté, Jaap S., Lourens, Lucas, Kuhlmann, Gesa & Brinkhuis, Henk (23.03.2018). Land-sea coupling of early Pleistocene glacial cycles in the southern North Sea exhibit dominant Northern Hemisphere forcing. Climate of the Past, 14 (3), (pp. 397-411) (15 p.).
Freymond, Chantal V., Kündig, Nicole, Stark, Courcelle, Peterse, Francien, Buggle, Björn, Lupker, Maarten, Plötze, Michael, Blattmann, Thomas M., Filip, Florin, Giosan, Liviu & Eglinton, Timothy I. (15.02.2018). Evolution of biomolecular loadings along a major river system. Geochmica et Cosmochimica Acta, 223, (pp. 389-404) (16 p.).
Usman, Muhammed Ojoshogu, Kirkels, Frédérique Marie Sophie Anne, Zwart, Huub Michel, Basu, Sayak, Ponton, Camilo, Blattmann, Thomas Michael, Ploetze, Michael, Haghipour, Negar, McIntyre, Cameron, Peterse, Francien, Lupker, Maarten, Giosan, Liviu & Eglinton, Timothy Ian (2018). Reconciling drainage and receiving basin signatures of the Godavari River system. Biogeosciences, 15 (11), (pp. 3357-3375).
van Bree, L.G.J., Peterse, F., van der Meer, M.T.J., Middelburg, J.J., Negash, A.M.D., De Crop, W., Cocquyt, Christine, Wieringa, J.J., Verschuren, Dirk & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (15.07.2018). Seasonal variability in the abundance and stable carbon-isotopic composition of lipid biomarkers in suspended particulate matter from a stratified equatorial lake (Lake Chala, Kenya/Tanzania) - Implications for the sedimentary record. Quaternary Science Reviews, 192, (pp. 208-224) (17 p.).
van den Bos, V., Engels, S., Bohncke, S.J.P., Cerli, C., Jansen, B., Kalbitz, Karsten, Peterse, F., Renssen, Hans & Sachse, Dirk (2018). Late Holocene changes in vegetation and atmospheric circulation at Lake Uddelermeer (The Netherlands) reconstructed using lipid biomarkers and compound-specific δD analysis. Journal of Quaternary Science, 33 (1), (pp. 100-111).
Freymond, Chantal V., Peterse, Francien, Fischer, Lorena V., Filip, Florin, Giosan, Liviu & Eglinton, Timothy I. (2017). Branched GDGT signals in fluvial sediments of the Danube River basin - Method comparison and longitudinal evolution. Organic Geochemistry, 103, (pp. 88-96) (9 p.).
Miller, Charlotte S, Peterse, Francien, da Silva, Anne-Christine, Baranyi, Viktória, Reichart, Gert J. & Kürschner, Wolfram M. (01.06.2017). Astronomical age constraints and extinction mechanisms of the Late Triassic Carnian crisis. Scientific Reports, 7 (1).
Peterse, F. & Eglinton, Timothy I. (13.06.2017). Grain Size Associations of Branched Tetraether Lipids in Soils and Riverbank Sediments - Influence of Hydrodynamic Sorting Processes. Frontiers in Earth Science, 5 (8 p.).
Randlett, Marie Eve, Bechtel, Achim, van der Meer, Marcel T J, Peterse, Francien, Litt, Thomas, Pickarski, Nadine, Kwiecien, Ola, Stockhecke, Mona, Wehrli, Bernhard & Schubert, Carsten J. (2017). Biomarkers in Lake Van sediments reveal dry conditions in eastern Anatolia during 110.000-10.000 years B.P. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 18 (2), (pp. 571-583).
Woelders, L., Vellekoop, J., Kroon, D., Smit, J., Casadío, S., Prámparo, M. B., Dinarès-Turell, J., Peterse, F., Sluijs, A., Lenaerts, J.T.M. & Speijer, R. P. (2017). Latest Cretaceous climatic and environmental change in the South Atlantic region. Paleoceanography, 32 (5), (pp. 466-483) (18 p.).
Schreuder, Laura T., Beets, Christiaan J., Prins, Maarten A., Hatté, Christine & Peterse, Francien (01.05.2016). Late Pleistocene climate evolution in Southeastern Europe recorded by soil bacterial membrane lipids in Serbian loess. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 449, (pp. 141-148) (8 p.).
Zhou, Bin, Wali, Guzalnur, Peterse, Francien & Bird, Michael I. (2016). Organic carbon isotope and molecular fossil records of vegetation evolution in central Loess Plateau since 450 kyr. Science China Earth Sciences, 59 (6), (pp. 1206-1215) (10 p.). Research Paper Special Topic: Advances in organic proxies for research in climate and environmental changes.
Li, Zhongqiao, Peterse, Francien, Wu, Ying, Bao, Hongyan, Eglinton, Timothy I. & Zhang, Jing (2015). Sources of organic matter in Changjiang (Yangtze River) bed sediments - Preliminary insights from organic geochemical proxies. Organic Geochemistry, 85, (pp. 11-21) (11 p.).
Peterse, F., Moy, C. M. & Eglinton, T. I. (16.02.2015). A laboratory experiment on the behaviour of soil-derived core and intact polar GDGTs in aquatic environments. Biogeosciences, 12 (4), (pp. 933-943) (11 p.).
Naeher, S., Niemann, H., Peterse, F., Smittenberg, R.H., Zigah, P.K. & Schubert, C.J. (2014). Tracing the methane cycle with lipid biomarkers in Lake Rotsee (Switzerland). Organic Geochemistry, 66, (pp. 174-181) (8 p.). Source: Scopus.
Naeher, S., Peterse, F., Smittenberg, R.H., Niemann, H., Zigah, P.K. & Schubert, C.J. (2014). Sources of glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) in catchment soils, water column and sediments of Lake Rotsee (Switzerland) - Implications for the application of GDGT-based proxies for lakes. Organic Geochemistry, 66, (pp. 164-173) (10 p.). Source: Scopus.
Peterse, F., Martínez-García, A., Zhou, B., Beets, C.J., Prins, M.A., Zheng, H. & Eglinton, T.I. (2014). Molecular records of continental air temperature and monsoon precipitation variability in East Asia spanning the past 130,000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 83, (pp. 76-82) (7 p.).
Peterse, Francien, Vonk, Jorien E., Holmes, R. Max, Giosan, Liviu, Zimov, Nikita & Eglinton, Timothy I. (2014). Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers in Arctic lake sediments: Sources and implications for paleothermometry at high latitudes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 119 (8), (pp. 1738-1754) (17 p.).
Zhou, B., Shen, C., Sun, W., Bird, M., Ma, W., Taylor, D., Liu, W., Peterse, F., Yi, W. & Zheng, H. (2014). Late pliocene-pleistocene expansion of C4 vegetation in semiarid East Asia linked to increased burning - Geology. Geology, 42 (12), (pp. 1067-1070) (4 p.).
Ernst, N., Peterse, F., Breitenbach, S.F.M., Syiemlieh, H.J. & Eglinton, T.I. (2013). Biomarkers record environmental changes along an altitudinal transect in the wettest place on Earth. Organic Geochemistry, 60, (pp. 93-99).
Schouten, S., Hopmans, E.C., Rosell-Melé, A., Pearson, A., Adam, P., Bauersachs, T., Bard, E., Bernasconi, S.M., Bianchi, T.S., Brocks, J.J., Carlson, L.T., Castañeda, I.S., Derenne, S., Selver, A.D., Dutta, K., Eglinton, T., Fosse, C., Galy, V., Grice, K., Hinrichs, K.U., Huang, Y., Huguet, A., Huguet, C., Hurley, S., Ingalls, A., Jia, G., Keely, B., Knappy, C., Kondo, M., Krishnan, S., Lincoln, S., Lipp, J., Mangelsdorf, K., Martínez-García, A., Ménot, G., Mets, A., Mollenhauer, G., Ohkouchi, N., Ossebaar, J., Pagani, M., Pancost, R.D., Pearson, E.J., Peterse, F., Reichart, G.-J., Schaeffer, P., Schmitt, G., Schwark, L., Shah, S.R., Smith, R.W., Smittenberg, R.H., Summons, R.E., Takano, Y., Talbot, H.M., Taylor, K.W.R., Tarozo, R., Uchida, M., van Dongen, B.E., Van Mooy, B.A.S., Wang, J., Warren, C., Weijers, J.W.H., Werne, J.P., Woltering, M., Xie, S., Yamamoto, M., Zhang, C.L., Zhang, Y., Zhao, M. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2013). An interlaboratory study of TEX86 and BIT analysis of sediments, extracts, and standard mixtures. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 14 (12), (pp. 5263-5285) (23 p.).
Peterse, F., Schouten, S., van der Meer, J., van der Meer, M.T.J. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2012). Corrigendum to "Distribution of branched tetraether lipids in geothermally heated soils: Implications for the MBT/CBT temperature proxy" [Organic Geochem. 40, 201-205 (2009)]. Organic Geochemistry, 51, (pp. 11-12) (2 p.). Source: Scopus.
Peterse, F., van der Meer, J., Schouten, S., Weijers, J.W.H., Fierer, N., Jackson, R.B., Kim, J.-H. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2012). Revised calibration of the MBT-CBT paleotemperature proxy based on branched tetraether mebrane lipids in surface soils. Geochmica et Cosmochimica Acta, 96, (pp. 215-229) (15 p.).
Sauder, L.A., Peterse, F., Schouten, S. & Neufeld, J.D. (2012). Low-ammonia niche of ammonia-oxidizing archaea in rotating biological contactors of a municipal wastewater treatment plant. Environmental Microbiology, 14 (9), (pp. 2589-2600) (12 p.). Source: Scopus.
Kim, J.-H., Peterse, F., Willmott, V., Klitgaard Kristensen, D., Baas, M., Schouten, S. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2011). Large ancient organic matter contributions to Arctic marine sediments (Svalbard). Limnology and Oceanography, 56 (4), (pp. 1463-1474) (12 p.). Source: Scopus Climate and Biota of the Early Paleogene 2011.
Peterse, F., Hopmans, E.C., Schouten, S., Mets, A., Rijpstra, W.I.C. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2011). Identification and distribution of intact polar branched tetraether lipids in peat and soil. Organic Geochemistry, 42 (9), (pp. 1007-1015) (9 p.). Source: Scopus European Geoscience Union.
Peterse, F., Prins, M.A., Beets, C.J., Troelstra, S.R., Zheng, H., Gu, Z., Schouten, S. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2011). Decoupled warming and monsoon precipitation in East Asia over the last deglaciation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 301 (1-2), (pp. 256-264) (9 p.). Source: Scopus International Conference on the status and future of the World’s Large Rivers.
Weijers, J.W.H., Bernhardt, B., Peterse, F., Werne, J.P., Dungait, J.A.J., Schouten, S. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2011). Absence of seasonal patterns in MBT-CBT indices in mid-latitude soils. Geochmica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75 (11), (pp. 3179-3190) (12 p.).
Kim, J.-H., Zarzycka, B., Buscail, R., Peterse, F., Bonnin, J., Ludwig, W., Schouten, S. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2010). Contribution of river-borne soil organic carbon to the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean). Limnology and Oceanography, 55 (2), (pp. 507-518) (12 p.). Source: Scopus.
Peterse, F., Nicol, G.W., Schouten, S. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2010). Influence of soil pH on the abundance and distribution of core and intact polar lipid-derived branched GDGTs in soil. Organic Geochemistry, 41 (10), (pp. 1171-1175) (5 p.). Source: Scopus.
Peterse, F., Kim, J.-H., Schouten, S., Kristensen, D.K., Koç, N. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2009). Constraints on the application of the MBT/CBT palaeothermometer at high latitude environments (Svalbard, Norway). Organic Geochemistry, 40 (6), (pp. 692-699) (8 p.). Source: Scopus.
Peterse, F., Schouten, S., van der Meer, J., van der Meer, M.T.J. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2009). Distribution of branched tetraether lipids in geothermally heated soils: Implications for the MBT/CBT temperature proxy. Organic Geochemistry, 40 (2), (pp. 201-205) (5 p.). Source: Scopus.
Peterse, F., van der Meer, M.T.J., Schouten, S., Jia, G., Ossebaar, J., Blokker, J. & Sinninghe Damsté, J.S. (2009). Assessment of soil n-alkane δD and branched tetraether membrane lipid distributions as tools for paleoelevation reconstruction. Biogeosciences, 6, (pp. 2799-2807) (9 p.).
Buurman, P., Peterse, F. & Almendros Martin, G. (2007). Soil organic matter chemistry in allophanic soils: A pyrolysis-GC/MS study of a Costa Rican Andosol catena. European Journal of Soil Science, 58 (6), (pp. 1330-1347) (18 p.).
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The role of warm oceans in past Antarctic ice-sheet variability
16.10.2017 to 15.10.2021
General project description 

On-going atmospheric and ocean warming is increasingly causing Antarctic ice-sheet volume imbalance
and melting. Effective mitigation and adaptation to the consequences of resulting sea-level rise require
accurate future projections. However, despite advances in spatial resolution and complex physics,
numerical model projections of ice sheet melt are too uncertain, mostly because the ice-ocean
interactions are poorly represented. Significant progress in numerical modeling can be obtained by
improving their adequacy in reproducing ice volume changes that occurred during past episodes of
warming. This requires accurate reconstructions of past ice sheet behaviour for crucial time periods.
Oligocene and Miocene (~34-5 Ma ago) atmospheric CO2 concentrations often exceeded that of presentday
and the few available paleo-records seem to suggest a dramatic response of the Antarctic ice sheet
to past climate changes, providing a prime target for fundamental improvements to future projections.
This project aims at reconstructing Oligocene-Miocene oceanographic and coupled ice-sheet variations
based on generating key data from circum-Antarctic marine sediments. Our recent key findings allow us
to (1) date Southern high latitudes sediments in unprecedented detail using microfossils and (2)
reconstruct past sea-ice cover, temperature and ocean structure using biological and geochemical
indicators preserved in these sediments. Quantification of such crucial parameters from critical locations
around Antarctica will provide the mechanistic understanding required to significantly improve coupled
climate-ocean-ice models. In addition, this work will highlight regions where the Antarctic ice-sheet is
most sensitive to climate warming, ultimately leading to more accurate sea level projections.

Role Researcher Funding
NWO grant
Project members UU

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GEO3-1308: Geochemical Processes at the Earth's Surface

GEO4-1420: Organic Geochemistry

GEO4-1440: Microbes and Biogeochemistry

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Additional functions and activities

2016 - present: Special Issue Editor Biogeosciences

2014 - present: Associate Editor Frontiers in Biogeoscience


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Full name
dr. ir. F. Peterse Contact details
Vening Meineszgebouw A

Princetonlaan 8a
Room 354
The Netherlands

Phone number (direct) +31 30 253 5068
Mo Tue Wed Thu Fr

Monday mornings and Thursday mornings present in the OG labs @GML

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Last updated 21.06.2018