UCL Department of Geography


Chronis Tzedakis

I am a palaeoclimatologist and palaeoecologist. I hold the Chair of Physical Geography at UCL, where I have been based since September 2009. I joined UCL from the University of Leeds, where I was Professor of Global Change Palaeoecology (2004-2009), Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow (2006-2007) and Senior Lecturer in Geography (2001-2004).

Before that, I was at Cambridge as a NERC Advanced Research Fellow in Geography (1995-2000) and a Fellow of Robinson College (1995-2000), and as post-doctoral researcher in Plant Sciences (1992-1994). I was educated at Boston University (BA, 1985), Brown University (ScM, 1987) and Cambridge (PhD, 1991).

More about Professor Tzedakis

My research and teaching centre on understanding environmental changes over the last 2.6 million years. I have generated some of the longest pollen records in Europe to explore the response of vegetation to climate variability. This work has also led to the identification and characterization of refugia and their importance as museums and cradles of biodiversity.

More recently, I have led community efforts to document the characteristics of interglacials, which are providing a basis for comparison with the present interglacial and its future evolution. Within this context, my work has shed light on when interglacials occur, how long they last and how strong they are.

Selected Publications

  • Margari, V., Hodell, D.A., Parfitt, S.A., Ashton, N.M., Grimalt, J.O., Kim, H., Yun, K.-S., Gibbard, P.L., Stringer, C.B., Timmermann, A. & Tzedakis, P.C. (2023) Extreme glacial cooling likely led to hominin depopulation of Europe in the Early Pleistocene. Science. science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adf4445
  • Tzedakis, P.C., Crucifix, M., Mitsui, T. & E.W. Wolff (2017) A simple rule to determine which insolation cycles lead to interglacials. Nature 542, 427-432, doi:10.1038/nature21364.
  • Tzedakis, P.C., Channell, J. E. T., Hodell, D. A., Kleiven, H. F. & Skinner, L. C. (2012) Determining the natural length of the current interglacial. Nature Geoscience 5, 138-141.
  • Margari, V., Skinner, L.C., Tzedakis, P.C., Ganopolski, A., Vautravers, M. & Shackleton, N.J. (2010) The nature of millennial-scale climate variability during the past two glacial periods. Nature Geoscience 3, 127-133.
  • Tzedakis, P.C., Raynaud, D.R, McManus, J.F., Berger, A., Brovkin, V. & Kiefer, T. (2009) Interglacial diversity. Nature Geoscience 2, 751-755.
  • Tzedakis, P.C., Hughen, K.A., Cacho, I. & Harvati, K. (2007) Placing late Neanderthals in a climatic context. Nature 449, 206-208.
  • Tzedakis, P. C., Roucoux, K. H., de Abreu, L. & Shackleton, N. J. (2004) The duration of forest stages in southern Europe and interglacial climate variability. Science 306, 2231-2235.
  • Tzedakis, P.C., Lawson, I.T., Frogley, M.R., Hewitt, G.M. & Preece, R.C. (2002) Buffered Tree Population Changes in a Quaternary Refugium: Evolutionary Implications. Science 297, 2044-2047.
  • Frogley, M.R., Tzedakis, P.C. & Heaton, T.H.E. (1999) Climate variability in NW Greece during the last interglacial. Science 285, 1886-1889.
  • Tzedakis, P.C. (1993) Long-term tree populations in northwest Greece through multiple Quaternary climatic cycles. Nature 364, 437-440.

I teach on the following modules: 



Previously, I have taight on the following modules: 

  • Pollen Analysis (GEOGGQ03)
  • Palaeoclimate (GEOGGQ07)

To view Professor Tzedakis's publications, please visit UCL Profiles:


Research Interests
  • General principles governing the intensity, structure, duration and climate stability of interglacials.
  • Understanding how changes in solar energy translate into the sequence of glacials and interglacials in the Quaternary.
  • The climatic background to hominin evolution and migration.
  • The role of refugia of temperate trees not only for the long-term survival of species, but also for the emergence of new ones.

I have led two international scientific initiatives under the auspices of the Past Global Changes Project: 'Past Interglacials' (PIGS, 2008-2015) and 'Quaternary Interglacials' (QUIGS, 2015-2023). The two consortia have brought together leading palaeoclimate scientists to document systematically the characteristics of interglacials, thereby providing a baseline against which to assess the climatic evolution of the current interglacial and its future evolution. Their work has contributed to the IPCC 5th and 6th Assessment Reports.

Translating key concepts and findings of my research to contribute to increased public awareness of science issues is a long-standing commitment: I have written in popular outlets, delivered public lectures, advised science TV series and given numerous interviews.

Since 2014, I organise (with Dorian Fuller at the Institute of Archaeology) the annual public UCL Lecture on Climate and Human History, which attracts audiences from across London and beyond. Past speakers: Ruddiman, Arsuaga, Willerslev, Diamond, Dennell, Harvati, Stringer.

Early humans in Europe

MediaCentral Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/10C0JFgB
Research Students
  • 2023-Present: Eirini Papachristopoulou, UCL “Investigating the role of North Atlantic Ocean circulation in intra-interglacial climate variability”
  • 2019-2023: Carole Roberts, UCL. “Exploring the nature of climate variability during past warm periods: Palynological insights from the Fucino Basin, central Italy.”
  • 2016-2021: Anna Cutmore, UCL. “Abrupt climate changes during the last deglaciation and Holocene: pollen & biomarker analyses from the Portuguese Margin”
  • 2006-2010: A. Milner, Leeds. “Tenaghi Philippon revisited: the last interglacial complex”
  • 2006-2010: T. Jones, Leeds (Joint supervisor; First supervisor: Dr I.T.Lawson) “Reconstructing Late Pleistocene and Holocene Lake Levels at Ioannina, Northwest Greece”
  • 1997-2001: I. Lawson, Cambridge . "The Lateglacial in Greece revisited"    
  • 1997-2002: S. Griffiths, Swansea. (Joint supervisor; first supervisor Prof. A. Street-Perrott) "Palaeolimnology of Lake Kopais"
  • 1996-2000: K.H. Roucoux, Cambridge (Joint supervisor; first supervisor N.J. Shackleton). "Climate change on the western edge of Europe in marine cores"
Research Grants, Prizes and Awards
  • 2021-2025 NERC: ‘Intra-interglacial variability: are warmer periods climatically more unstable?” 
  • 2019 UCL Global Engagement: Cities Partnerships Programme  - Rome 
  • 2018-2021 NERC: “Climate variability at the Middle Pleistocene Transition 900 kyr ago”
  • 2015-2018 Leverhulme Research Project Grant: "Placing the earliest human occupation of Europe in a climate context" 
  • 2013-2014 NERC: “IODP Survey of the Shackleton Sites on the SW Iberian Margin” 
  • 2012-2014 NERC: “Marine Isotope Stage 19: analogue for the present interglacial” 
  • 2011-2012 NERC: “Terrestrial responses to millennial and sub-millennial climate variability in the Early Glacial and implications for the hydrological cycle” 
  • 2010-2014 EU 7th Framework Programme: “Climate change - Learning from the past climate (Past4Future)”
  • 2009-2011 NERC: “Climate instability during the Last Interglacial” 
  • 2008-2009 NERC: “Revisiting the longest European palaeoenvironmental archive”
  • 2007-2009 Leverhulme Research Project Grant: “The palaeoenvironmental background to early human appearance in S. Europe.”
  • 2006-2009 NERC QUEST: Regulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide on glacial-interglacial timescales and its coupling to climate change. 
  • 2006-2007 Leverhulme Research Fellowship: “Developing terrestrial chronologies for MIS 11” 
  • 2005-2006 NERC: “Vegetation response to abrupt climate change during MIS 6: direct land-sea comparisons. £30,879 
  • 2003-2006 NERC: “Response of vegetation to climate variability on orbital and millennial frequencies during the penultimate climate cycle in W. Greece” 
  • 2002-2003 NERC: “Response of vegetation to climate change during the closing stages of interglacials in SW Europe” 
  • 2001-2002 Royal Society: “A new archive of climate change” 
  • 1995-2000 NERC Advanced Fellowship: “Linking high-resolution marine and terrestrial records of Quaternary environmental change”