UCL Department of Geography


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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

Room 211, North West Wing
Tel. +44 20 7679 0559


Academic Support and Feedback  - academic year 2020-21

Bookable online office hours are available each week during term time for academic support and feedback. My normal office hours are:

Monday 0900-1000

Wednesday 1100-1200

Friday 1600-1700

although there may be variations each week depending on my other commitments

Meetings will be held via Teams. Click here to book a slot Note that you can only book up to 14 days in advance - if you need to book a slot further in advance, please email me


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.


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]


Street-Perrott, F. A., Holmes, J. A., Robertson, I., Ficken, K. J., Koff, T.,  Loader, N., Marshall, J. D., Martma, T. (2018) The Holocene isotopic record of aquatic cellulose from Lake Äntu Sinijärv, Estonia: Influence of changing climate and organic-matter sources. Quaternary Science Reviews,193, 68-83. [open access]

Sylvestre F, Schuster M, Vogel H, Abdheramane M, Ariztegui D, Salzmann U, Schwalb A, Waldmann N, Adeaga O, Ahounta D, Izuchukwu MA, Andossa L, Armitage S, Augustin L, Barboni D, Bard E, Berke M, Bouchez C, Bourlès D, Bristow C, Brown E, Campisano C, Chalié F, Clarke L, Contoux C, Couapel M, Delanghe D, Deschamps P, Doumnang JC, Flecker R, Harms U, Holmes J, Phillips RI, Isseini M, Jouve G, Larrasoana J, Lebatard AE, Leroy S, Mahamoud Y, Moussa A, Nielson D, Nguetsop F, Njokuocha RC, Noren A, Porat N, Chloé P, Schüler-Goldbach L, Tachikawa K, Thouveny N, Tutolo B, Verschuren D, Vidal L, Viehberg F.(2018) The Lake CHAd Deep DRILLing project (CHADRILL) – targeting 10 million years of environmental and climate change in Africa. Scientific  Drilling, 24, 71–78 [open access]

van Hardenbroek, M., A. Chakraborty, K.L. Davies, P. Harding, O. Heiri, A.C.G. Henderson, J.A. Holmes, G.E. Lasher, M.J. Leng, V.N. Panizzo, L. Roberts, J. Schilder, C.N. Trueman, M.J. Wooller (2018) The stable isotope composition of organic and inorganic fossils in lake sediment records: Current understanding, challenges, and future directions. Quaternary Science Reviews, 196,154-176.

Bristow, C. S.,Holmes, J. A., Mattey, D., Salzmann, U., Sloane, H. (2018) A late Holocene palaeoenvironmental ‘snapshot’ of the Angamma Delta, Lake Megachad at the end of the African Humid Period, Quaternary Science Reviews, doi10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.04.025

Roberts, L. R., J. A. Holmes, M. J. Leng, H. J. Sloane, D. J. Horne (2018) Effects of cleaning methods upon preservation of stable isotopes and trace elements in shells of Cyprideis torosa (Crustacea, Ostracoda): Implications for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Quaternary Science Reviews, 189, 197-209 [open access]


Holmes, J. A. Hoelzmann, P. (2017) The late Pleistocene-Holocene African Humid Period as Evident in Lakes. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.531. [open access]

Holmes, J. A. De Deckker, P (2017) Trace-element and stable-isotope composition of the Cyprideis torosa (Crustacea, Ostracoda) shell. Journal of Micropalaeontology, 36, 38–49


Holmes, J.A., Barker, P. A., Leng, M. J. (editors) (2016) Special Issue: Quaternary palaeoenvironmental proxies and processes – papers in honour of Professor Alayne Street-Perrott. Journal of Quaternary Science 31, 281–435

Holmes, J.A., Barker, P. A., Leng, M. J. (2016) Editorial: Quaternary palaeoenvironmental proxies and processes – papers in honour of Professor Alayne Street-Perrott. Journal of Quaternary Science 31, 281–285.

Burn, M. J., Holmes, J. A., Kennedy, L. M., Bain, A., Marshall, J. D.,  Perdikaris, S. (2016) A sediment-based reconstruction of Caribbean effective precipitation during the ‘Little Ice Age’ from Freshwater Pond, Barbuda. The Holocene 26, 1237-1247.

Holmes, J.A., Metcalfe, S., Jones, H.L., Marshall, J.D. (2016). Climatic variability over the last 30,000 years recorded in La Piscina de Yuriria, a Central Mexican Crater lake. Journal of Quaternary Science, 31, 310-324.

Zhang J, Ma X, Qiang M, Huang X, Li S, Guo X, Henderson ACG, Holmes JA, Chen F (2016). Developing inorganic carbon-based radiocarbon chronologies for Holocene lake sediments in arid NW China. Quaternary Science Reviews, 144, 66-82.

Cheshire, K., Morgan, R.M., Holmes, J. (2016). The potential for geochemical discrimination of single- and mixed-source soil samples from close proximity urban parkland locations. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 1-14. [open access]

Holmes, J. A., Tindall, J., Roberts, N., Marshall, W., Marshall, J. D. Bingham, A., Feeser, I., O'Connell, M., Atkinson, T., Jourdan, A-L., March, A., Fisher, E. H. (2016) Lake isotope records of the 8200-year cooling event in western Ireland: Comparison with model simulations. Quaternary Science Reviews, 131, 341-349. [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

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 Quaternary environmental change, which I teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level
Year 3
GEOG3054 Independent study (convenor)
GEOG3067 Palaeclimatology (co-convenor)
Year 2
GEOG2001 The Practice of Geography (contributor)
GEOG2008 Reconstructing Past Environments (contributor)
Year 1
GEOG1005 Environmental Change (convenor)
Postgraduate teaching
GEOGG133 Past climates (contributor)
GEOGG136 Nonbiological Indicators of Environmental Change (convenor)
GEOGG135 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