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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  Jonathan Holmes

Professor Jonathan Holmes

Environmental Change Research Centre
Department of Geography
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Office hours for academic support and feedback (ASF hours)
Term 1 and Term 2 (every week except reading week) 
Mondays 1500-1600
Tuesdays 1100-1200
Thursdays 1600-1700

(and additionally in w/c 13 March, Wednesday 1000-1100)

Click HERE to book a slot. Slots are 10 minutes long - if you think you’ll need longer, feel free to book two consecutive slots. Meetings are face to face in my office (NW Wing 211) - if you want to meet online instead, contact me by email to arrange this as soon as you've booked your slot



Jonathan was educated at Honley High School, West Yorkshire, and Hertford College, Oxford. From 1988 to 2000 he was Lecturer/Senior Lecturer and then Reader in Geography at Kingston University. He came to UCL as research director of the Environmental Change Research Centre (ECRC) and Reader in Environmental Change in 2000. He is currently Professor of Physical Geography and director of ECRC.


Yang, H., Macario-González, L., Cohuo, S., Whitmore, T.J., Salgado, J., Peréz, L., Schwalb, A., Rose, N.L., Holmes, J., Riedinger-Whitmore, M.A., Hoelzmann, P., O’Dea, A., 2023. Mercury Pollution History in Tropical and Subtropical American Lakes: Multiple Impacts and the Possible Relationship with Climate Change. Environmental Science & Technology. [open access]

Holmes, J. A., Burn, M., Cisneros-Dozal, L. M., Jones, M., Metcalfe, S (2023) An 1800-year oxygen-isotope record of short- and long-term hydroclimate variability in the northern neotropics from a Jamaican marl lake, Quaternary Science Reviews, 301, 107930, [open access]

Burn, M. J., Boger, R., Holmes, J. A. Bain., A (2022) A long-term perspective of climate change in the Caribbean and its impacts on the island of Barbuda. In Perdikaris, S., Boger, R. (Eds) Barbuda Changing Times, Changing Tides. Routledge, ISBN 9781032326399


Sanjuan, J., Matamoros, D., Casanovas-Vilar, I., Vicente, A., Moreno-Bedmar, J.A., Holmes, J., Martín-Closas, C., 2022. Palaeoecology of Middle Miocene charophytes from the Vallès‒Penedès and Vilanova basins (Catalonia, Spain). Historical Biology, 1-21. 10.1080/08912963.2022.2106861 [open access]

Metcalfe, S.E., Holmes, J.A., Jones, M.D., Medina Gonzalez, R., Primmer, N. J., Martinez Dyrzo, H., Davies, S. J., Leng, M.J. 2022. Response of a low elevation carbonate lake in the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) to climatic and human forcings, Quaternary Science Reviews, 282, [open access]

Roberts, L.R., Holmes, J.A., Horne, D.J., Leng, M.J., Sayer, C.D., Timms, R.G.O., Flowers, K., Blockley, S.P.M. and Kelly, A., 2022. Reconstruction of short-term storm surge-driven increases in shallow coastal lake salinity using ostracod shell chemistry. Natural Hazards. [open access]

Horne, D., Ashton, N., Benardout, G., Brooks, S., Coope, G., Holmes, J. A., Lewis, S. G., Parfitt, S. A.., White, T. S.., Whitehouse, N. J., Whittaker, J. (2022). A terrestrial record of climate variation during MIS 11 through multiproxy palaeotemperature reconstructions from Hoxne, UK. Quaternary Research, 111, 21-52. doi:10.1017/qua.2022.20.

Burn, M. J., Boger, R., Holmes, J. A. Bain., A (2022) A long-term perspective of climate change in the Caribbean and its impacts on the island of Barbuda. In Perdikaris, S., Boger, R.(Eds) Barbuda Changing Times, Changing Tides. Routledge, ISBN 9781032326399



Lombino, A; Atkinson, T; Brooks, SJ; Gröcke, DR; Holmes, J; Jones, VJ; Marshall, JD; Nierop, K., Thomas, Z (2021) Climate reconstruction from paired oxygen-isotope analyses of chironomid larval head capsules and endogenic carbonate (Hawes Water, UK) - potential and problems. Quaternary Science Reviews [open access]

Lombino, A; Atkinson, T; Brooks, SJ; Gröcke, DR; Holmes, J; Jones, VJ; Marshall, JD; (2021) Experimental determination of the temperature dependence of oxygen-isotope fractionation between water and chitinous head capsules of chironomid larvae. Journal of Paleolimnology 66, 117-124. [open access]


Palmer, S.E., Burn, M.J. & Holmes, J. (2020) A multiproxy analysis of extreme wave deposits in a tropical coastal lagoon in Jamaica, West Indies. Natural Hazards

Roberts, L.R., J.A.Holmes, H.J.Sloane, C.Arrowsmith, M.J.Leng, D.J.Horne (2020) δ18O and δ13C of Cyprideis torosa from coastal lakes: Modern systematics and down-core interpretation. Marine Micropaleontology, 160, [open access]

Holmes, JA., Leuenberger, M, Molloy, K. O'Connell, M. (2020) Younger Dryas and Holocene environmental change at the Atlantic fringe of Europe derived from lake-sediment stable-isotope records from western Ireland. Boreas, 49, 233-247.

Roberts, LR, Holmes, JA, Horne, DJ (2020) Tracking the seasonal calcification of Cyprideis torosa (Crustacea, Ostracoda) using Mg/Ca-inferred temperatures, and its implications for palaeotemperature reconstruction. Marine Micropaleontology, 256,


Roberts, LR, Sayer, CD, Hoare, D, Tomlinson, M, Holmes, JA, Horne, DJ, Kelly, A. (2019) The role of monitoring, documentary and archival records for coastal shallow lake management. Geo: Geography and Environment, 6 (2) , Article e00083. [open access]

Sanjuan, J., Alqudahab, M., Neubauer, T. A., Holmes, J. A., Khairallaha, C. (2019) Palaeoenvironmental evolution of the late Miocene palaeolake at Zahle (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 524, 70-84.

Briant, R.M., Bates, M.R., Boreham, S., Cameron, N.G., Coope, G.R., Field, M.H., Hatch, M., Holmes, J.A., Keen, D.H., Kilfeather, A.A., Penkman, K.E.H., Simons, R.M.J., Schwenninger, J-L, Wenban-Smith, F.F., Whitehouse N.J. and Whittaker, J.E. (2019). Early Ipswichian (last interglacial) sea level rise in the Channel region: Stone Point Site of Special Scientific Interest, Hampshire, England. Proceedings of the Geologists Association 130, 1-26. [open access]

Click here for full publication list

My research is concerned with the reconstruction and understanding of late Pleistocene and Holocene environments, human–climate interactions and data–model comparisons. It  falls into three major themes;

  1. Climate variability in low-latitude regions (Northern Neotropics, North and West Africa, Western China and Central Asia)
  2. Rapid climate change events across Europe
  3. Methodological developments in the application of carbonate nonmarine microfossils and microfossil geochemistry to palaeoclimate reconstruction.

Recent Funding

2022-2023 UCL-IIT Delhi partnership fund ‘Exploring the spatiotemporal patterns of water stable-isotope across Indo-Gangetic plains to understand the regional hydroclimate

2013-2015 NERC standard grant (NE/K00610X/1) Climate variability over the circum-Caribbean region during the past 1200 years from oxygen-isotope analyses of lake sediments

2012-2014 Royal Society Partnership Grant Detecting Change in Local Ponds

Outreach activities with schools, colleges and the public
I regularly take part in various outreach activities with school groups from upper-level primary to 6th form. I was organizer of a Southwark Schools ‘Gifted and Talented’ event on environmental microscopy and organizer of, and participant in, OPAL (OPen Air Laboratories)-based aquatic ecology fieldwork with 90 Year 6 children. I regularly give lectures on climate change to various local 6th forms. I have worked with the wider public in the London Science Museum’s ‘Antenna Live’ gallery public engagement event on Sensing the Oceans and its  'Lates' Event on Climate Change

Royal Society Partnership Grant
Detecting changes in local ponds was an exciting project at a junior school in Surrey in which I was the university partner. The project, which ran from 2012 to 2014, was funded by a partnership grant from the Royal Society and designed to give school children the opportunity to take part in a genuine scientific research project. The grant has provided money for lab and field equipment in the school.

I contributed to the BBC World Service Science in Action programme in connection with the drying of the Sahara (May 2008). This work, which was a ‘Perspective’ piece that I wrote for Science, also attracted media attention from the New York Times and various popular science publications. I was interviewed for BBC Breakfast TV in connection with IPCC 4th assessment (2007), BBC Lunchtime news (2007) in connection with the finding that 2006 was the hottest year for Britain on record and on  the European heatwave (2017). I acted as consultant for BBC Science and History Programme ‘Superstorm’ and shot video footage in Western China’s drylands in 2006.

I managed the production of, and contributed to, Water Resources and Sustainable Development in North West China: a case Study of the Minqin Basin a bilingual (English – Mandarin) information brochure for water managers and local government officials in Gansu Province, P. R. China, published in 2002 and was invited participant in UK-Nigeria Bilateral Forum on environmental change, hosted in London in 2000 by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and attended by a small group of British and Nigerian government ministers, NGO representatives and academics.

My primary teaching role is in past climatic and environmental change, which I teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level

Year 3

GEOG0052 Climate Change: Past, present, future (co-convenor)

Year 2

GEOG0016 The Practice of Geography (contributor)

GEOG0021 Reconstructing Past Environments (contributor)

Year 1

GEOG0008 Environmental Change (convenor)

GEOG0014 Geography in the Field 2  (co-convenor)


Postgraduate teaching

GEOG0120 Past climates (contributor)

GEOG0123 Climate proxies (convenor)

GEOG0123 Biological Indicators of Environmental Change (contributor)

Joanna Tindall - Lacustrine carbonate oxygen-isotopes as tracers of past climate change in NW Europe (NERC London DTP studentship, co-supervising with Prof Ian Candy, RHUL)



Director of the Environmental Change Research Centre
Academic Director, Bloomsbury Environmental Isotope Facility (BEIF)
Secretary, Departmental Laboratory Users' Group

Member, NERC Peer-review College