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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  Vivienne Jones

Professor Viv Jones

Professor Viv JonesDepartment of Geography,
University College London,
North-West Wing,
Gower Street,

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 0555
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 0565


Professor Viv Jones


  • 1984-87 PhD (NERC) University College London, Department of Geography A palaeoecological study of the post-glacial acidification of the Round Loch of Glenhead and its catchment.
  • 1980-1983 BSc (Hons) Geography and Botany, University of Liverpool

Career History

  • 2016 - present Professor in Palaeolimnology, Environmental Change Research Centre, Department of Geography, University College London
  • 2010 – 2016 Reader in Palaeolimnology,
  • 2001- 2010 Principal Research Fellow Part time.
  • 1995-2001 Senior Research Fellow, ECRC, University College London.
  • 1987-1995 Research Fellow, ECRC, University College London.


International Paleolimnological Association, Freshwater Biological Association, British Ecological Society

Editorial Positions

  • 2018 - present. Editorial Board, The Holocene
  • 2013 - present. Editorial Advisory Board, The Anthropocene Review
  • 2008 – present. Editorial Board, Journal of Paleolimnology


Membership of Committees

  • 2018 - present Deputy Chair of the UK Arctic & Antarctic Partnership Steering Committee
  • 2010 – 2016 Elected committee member of the International Society for Diatom Research
  • 2007 – 2013  Member of NERC radiocarbon committee
  • 2007 – 2010  Member of ESF proposal review panel
  • 2004 – 2007 Member NERC peer review committee
  • 2003 – 2010 Secretary of the International Society for Diatom Research.

Click here for Publications.

Viv's research often involves Diatoms which are microscopic unicellular algae which grow in a wide range of habitats in damp soils, lakes, rivers and seas. Extremely common in almost all freshwater and marine environments they are an excellent ecological indicator species sensitive to acidity, nutrients and salinity. Since they have a short life cycle they respond quickly to changes in conditions. Modern communities are used by environmental scientists for monitoring water quality especially in relation to the problems of acidification and eutrophication. Diatoms also preserve well in many lake and marine sediments and thus can be used reconstruct past conditions on a range of timescales from decades to tens of thousands of years.

However she is also an environmental scientist interested in the application of multi-proxy palaeoecological techniques to the understanding of present day environmental problems. Current research interests are wide ranging and cover the following:


Major grants since 1990

  • 2015-2020 NERC Hydroscape: Connectivity x Stressor Interactions Hydroscape aims to determine how stressors and connectivity interact to influence biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems across Britain
  • 2012-2015  NERC-LAC. Lakes and the arctic carbon cycle.

  • 2010-2013 NERC Kamchatka.  Influence of global teleconnections on Holocene climate in Kamchatka.

  • 2010-2012 NERC Greenland.  Long-range atmospheric Nitrogen deposition as a driver of ecological change in Arctic lakes.
  • 2006-2011 CARBO-North Quantifying the carbon budget in Northern Russia: past, present and future. Funding Source, EU Framework 6.
  • 2003 NERC Assessing regional climate signals from delta 18O diatom records in annually laminated lake sediments
  • 2000-2003 SPICE. Sustainable Pechora in a Changing Environment. Funding Source, EU INCO-COPERNICUS
  • 1998-2001 TUNDRA. Tundra Degradation in the Russian Arctic. funding source EU FW4
  • 2000-2005 NORPEC. Norwegian PalaeoEnvironments and Climates as reconstructed from lake sediments. Funding source NAVF (Norwegian Science Research Council)
  • 2000 NERC Palaeolimnological evidence for circumarctic climate warming in Northern Russia (NER/B/S/2000/00733)
  • 1995-1998 Lake sediment records of recent atmospheric pollution and environmental change on Spitzbergen. Funding source NAVF .
  • 1995-1997 NERC Diatom biodiversity and distribution in maritime and continental Antarctica. Joint with Dr Steve Juggins, University of Newcastle.
  • 1995-1997 NERC The use of lake sediments to determine the history of ecosystem change at Signy Island within the Holocene.

I am interested how we can use palaeolimnology to create a better understanding of how lake ecosystems may respond to future changes whether these are due to climate change or pollution. The key to this is a deep knowledge of how lakes have responded to climate change and pollution over a range of timescales, obtained in many cases by using a multi-proxy approach.

Much of my recent work has been concerned with changes in The Arctic, a region which is already responding to anthropogenic warming and which is predicted to be impacted by enhanced warming this century. The Carbo-North project ( and the SPICE project provided scenarios of Arctic change under various warming projections which were presented to stakeholders in Town Meetings in Usinsk, Pechora and Naryan Mar, in the Komi Republic region. I am one of the few active palaeo researchers in Russia and was recently invited to a Department of Energy and Climate Change meeting in Moscow to discuss better collaborative links with Russia.  I have been involved with several major palaeolimnological research programmes in the Arctic, I am currently a co-investigator on a NERC Arctic programme project (NERC-LAC) leading the Russian aspect of the research.

Another key aspect has been the development of the use of palaeolimnology in conservation.  Working with the RSPB at Loch Ruthwen in Scotland we established a link between past productivity of the lake and the population of the rare Slavonian Grebe; this has directly led to research in the Flow Country in Caithness, funded by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), examining whether a palaeolimnological approach can help to understand why populations of the Common Scoter have declined in the last 3 decades. This led to a funded studentship and former student Dr Hannah Robson now works at the WWT.

More recently work with the WWT has expanded to Madagascar where a PhD student Lily Unger has been funded under a NERC CASE award to investigate how we can use lake sediments to inform conservation targets for the world's rarest bird, The Madagascan Pochard.

I remain a committed member of the International Diatom Society, having served as Secretary and now a committee member. I have taught diatoms to undergraduates, masters students, PhD students, including many overseas students, and professionals, running courses for the Environment Agency for example.

Presently I am working with colleagues from the National Museum of Wales and the Natural History Museum and others to produce a Diatom Flora of the British Isles




Recently I have been involved in a local campaign to Save the Beane marshes and co-ordinate the education sub-group. I have talked to sixth formers and the local Civic Society in Hertfordshire about climate change, hosted widening participation events for sixth formers at UCL and been involved with the Science Lates series at the Science Museum.

First Year

Joint Convenor GEOG0016

Contribute to GEOG0013 and GEOG0012

Second Year

Convenor GEOG0021

Third Year

Contribution to GEOG30044


Convenor GEOG0122

Contribution to GEOG0123

Academic Support and Feedback times - due to my teaching commitments these are as below this term and maybe affected by strike action

Tues 21st Jan 9.30 – 11.00

Thurs 23rd Jan 9.30 – 11.00

Thurs 30th Jan 10.30 -12.00

Friday 31st Jan 10-11.30

Monday 3rd Feb 14.00-15.30

Thursday 6th 09.30- 11.00

Monday 10th Feb 14.00-16.00

Thursday 13th 10-11

Thurs 27th Feb 10.00 – 11.00

Friday 28th Feb 14.00-16.00

Tues 3rd March 9.30-10.30

Thurs 5th March 10-12

Tues 10th March 10.00 -12.00

Thurs 12th March 9.30 -10.30

Tues 17h March 10.00 -12.00

Thurs 19th March 9.30 -10.30

Tues 24th March 10.00 -12.00

Thurs 26th March 9.30 -10.30

PhD research students

  • 2018 - present Lily Unger (NERC CASE (WWT)) Using palaeolimnology to determine restoration targets for the Madagascan Pochard
  • 2015 - 2019 Emma Levin (EPSRC, Crime Science) Using diatoms as forensic tracers
  • 2014 - 2019 Richard Mazebedi (Gov Botswana). Food webs of the Okavango Delta
  • 2013 - 2017 Hannah Robson  (IMPACT WWT) Using palaeolimnology to assess bird populations
  • 2013 – 2017 Kirstie Scott (SeCret, Crime science) Diatoms and forensic applications
  • 2010 – 2014 Alex Lombino (NERC project award) Oxygen isotopes in chironomids
  • 2011 – 2014 Luca Marazzi (self funding) Biodiversity in the Okavango Delta
  • 2005 - 2009 Angela Self NERC/CASE award Chironomids and climate in the Russian arctic
  • 2003 - 2008 Jonathan Tyler NERC/CASE award Diatoms and delta 18O
  • 1999 - 2004 Gina Clarke. The relationship between diatoms and climate in a European mountain lake training set: implications for detecting the Little Ice Age in lake sediments from Central Norway.
  • 1996 - 2000 Patrick Rioual. Reconstruction of palaeoclimatic and palaeolimnological changes during the last interglacial from sedimentary diatom assemblages in the French Massif Central
  • 1994 – 2000 Nadia Solovieva A palaeoecological study of holocene environmental change in a small upland lake from the Kola Peninsula, Russia
  • 1993 -1998 NERC/CASE student Philippa Noon with the British Antarctic Survey. Lake sediments and climatic change in Antarctica


Masters Students (since 2010)

  • 2019 Jing (Jackey) Zhu  Diatoms from a Greenland Ice Core
  • 2018 Carole Roberts Palaeolimnology of Pechora Delta Russia
  • 2018 Gina Charnley Recent Environmental Change and Bewick Swan populations, Pechora Delta
  • 2018 Joanna Davies Palaeolimnology of King George Island Antarctica; Diatoms and climate
  • 2017 Lily Unger Plant macrofossil analysis of Australian wetlands
  • 2015 Stephanie Rogers Invasive Harlequin Ladybird success
  • 2015 Eleri Pritchard Signal Crayfish Success
  • 2015 Lauren McLachlan Connectivity of Brown Trout
  • 2014 Hamish Martin Nitrogen Deposition in the UK
  • 2014 Ruth Davey Diatoms from Finnmark
  • 2014 Dafie Ning Diatoms from Billabongs in Australia
  • 2013 Christian Quintana Carbon cycling in Russia
  • 2012 Laurence Evans  Nitrogen deposition in Greenland
  • 2012 Kate Jenner Carbon trading
  • 2011 Sarah Roberts  Holocene climate in northern Fennoscandia
  • 2011 Catherine Peters Amphibians  in Uganda
  • 2010 Emma Watson Nutrient reconstruction at Loch Ruthwen


    Director and Company Secretary of the Environmental Consultancy ENSIS from 1994 to 2018