Dr James Rae

Dr James Rae
Research Fellow


My research focuses on Earth's carbon cycle and climate. I am particularly interested in major environmental change in Earth's past, including rapid CO2 and climate change during the ice ages, the long-term chemical evolution of Earth's ocean and atmosphere, and the enivornmental perturbations that led to mass extinction.

To address these questions I use novel geochemical measurements on fossils, sediments, water, and ice, with a focus on the boron isotope proxy for pH and CO2. I am a PI of the St Andrews isotope Geochemistry labs (STAiG), a state-of-the-art clean room and mass spectrometry facility. I also use a variety of numerical tools to explore mechanisms of environmental change, including the cGENIE Earth System model.

I'm also fascinated by biomineralisation processes in corals and foraminifera, and the insights that geochemistry offers into calcification and ocean acidification.

I give regular public shows, lectures, and teacher development workshops on climate change. I am currently developing a series of teaching resources with Geobus and serve on the board of the Royal Meteorological Society's MetLink outreach programme.

You can follow me on Twitter @mudwaterclimate

PhD projects for 2018 entry

If you are interested in joining my group as a PhD student please take a look at the projects below and get in touch!

60 million years of CO2

Ocean acidification and mass extinction

Snowguns, seesaws, and CO2: million-year to millennial climate and productivity change in the Arctic

Modelling rapid CO2 and climate change in the Southern Ocean

Research Group


Dr William Gray

Dr Rosanna Greenop

Dr Rhian Rees-Own

PhD Students

Ben Taylor

Jess Crumpton-Banks

Eloise Littley

source: symbiosis


Recent publications listed in research@st-andrews
Rae, JWB 2018, Boron isotopes in foraminifera: systematics, biomineralisation, and CO2 reconstruction. in H Marschall & G Foster (eds), Boron Isotopes: The Fifth Element. Advances in Isotope Geochemistry, Springer, Cham, pp. 107-143. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-64666-4_5
Haynes, LL, Hönisch, B, Dyez, KA, Holland, K, Rosenthal, Y, Fish, CR, Subhas, AV & Rae, JWB 2017, 'Calibration of the B/Ca proxy in the planktic foraminifer Orbulina universa to Paleocene seawater conditions' Paleoceanography, vol 32, no. 6, pp. 580-599. DOI: 10.1002/2016PA003069
Martínez-Botí, MA, Marino, G, Foster, GL, Ziveri, P, Henehan, MJ, Rae, JWB, Mortyn, PG & Vance, D 2015, 'Boron isotope evidence for oceanic carbon dioxide leakage during the last deglaciation' Nature, vol 518, no. 7538, pp. 219-22. DOI: 10.1038/nature14155
O'Brien, C, Foster, G, Rae, JWB & Pancost, R 2015, 'Reply to 'Pliocene warmth and gradients'' Nature Geoscience, vol 8, pp. 420. DOI: doi:10.1038/ngeo2445
O'Brien, C, Foster, G, Martinez-Boti, M, Abell, R, Rae, JWB & Pancost, R 2014, 'High sea surface temperatures in tropical warm pools during the Pliocene' Nature Geoscience, vol 7, no. 8, pp. 606-611. DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2194
Rae, JWB, Sarnthein, M, Foster, G, Ridgwell, A, Grootes, P & Elliott, T 2014, 'Deep water formation in the North Pacific and deglacial CO2 rise' Paleoceanography. DOI: 10.1002/2013PA002570
Henehan, MJ, Rae, JWB, Foster, GL, Erez, J, Prentice, KC, Kucera, M, Bostock, HC, Martinez-Boti, MA, Milton, JA, Wilson, PA, Marshall, BJ & Elliott, T 2013, 'Calibration of the Boron Isotope Proxy in the Planktonic Foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber for use in palaeo-CO2 reconstruction' Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 364, pp. 111-122. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.12.029
Foster, GL, Hoenisch, B, Paris, G, Dwyer, G, Rae, JWB, Elliott, T, Gaillardet, J, Hemming, G, Louvat, P & Vengosh, A 2013, 'Interlaboratory comparison of boron isotope analyses of boric acid, seawater and marine CaCO3 by MC-ICPMS and NTIMS' Chemical Geology, vol 358, pp. 1-14. DOI:
van Heuven, S, Pierrot, D, Rae, JWB, Lewis, E & Wallace, DWR, CO2SYS v 1.1: MATLAB Program Developed for CO2 System Calculations. ORNL/CDIAC-105b., 2011, Software, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennesee. DOI: 10.3334/CDIAC/otg.CO2SYS_MATLAB_v1.1

Contact Details:

Dr James Rae
Irvine Building
University of St Andrews
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

tel: 01334 463910
room: 502



Scottish Oceans Institute
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
STAIG Principle Investigators

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The Secretary
Scottish Oceans Institute
Institiud Chuantan na h-Alba
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: +44 (0) 1334 463472
fax: +44 (0) 1334 463443