Professor Koutavas investigates past ocean and climate change with focus on the tropics, the Pacific Ocean, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. His research utilizes geochemical proxies in foraminifera from deep-sea sediments and organic compounds produced by marine algae. He is further interested in dendrochronology–the science of tree-ring patterns–to investigate climatic, ecological and paleoenvironmental changes on land. His research scope is on the Pleistocene Ice Ages, abrupt climate events of the last glacial period, the Holocene, the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, and the modern signal of global change influenced by human activity.
- Rustic, G. T., A. Koutavas, T. M. Marchitto, and B. K. Linsley (2015), Dynamical Excitation of the Tropical Pacific Ocean and ENSO Variability by LIttle Ice Age Cooling. Science, 350, 1537-1541, doi:10.1126/science.aac9937.
- Koutavas, A. (2013), CO2 fertilization and enhanced drought resistance in Greek firs from Cephalonia Island, Greece. Global Change Biology, 19:2, doi:10.1111/gcb.12053.
- Koutavas, A. and S. Joanides (2012), El Niño–Southern Oscillation extrema in the Holocene and Last Glacial Maximum. Paleoceanography, 27, PA4208, doi:10.1029/2012PA002378.
- Koutavas, A., and J. P. Sachs (2008), Northern timing of deglaciation in the eastern equatorial Pacific from alkenone paleothermometry. Paleoceanography, 23, PA4205, doi:10.1029/2008PA001593.
- Koutavas, A., P. B. deMenocal, G. C. Olive, and J. Lynch-Stieglitz (2006), Mid-Holocene El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) attenuation revealed by individual foraminifera in eastern tropical Pacific sediments. Geology, 34, 993-996.
- Koutavas A., and J. Lynch-Stieglitz (2005), Variability of the marine ITCZ over the eastern Pacific during the past 30,000 years: Regional perspective and global context. In The Hadley Circulation: Present Past and Future, R. Bradley and H. Diaz, Eds., Springer, p. 347-369.
- Koutavas A., J. Lynch-Stieglitz, T. M. Marchitto, and J. P. Sachs (2002), El Niño-like Pattern in Ice Age Tropical Pacific Sea Surface Temperature. Science, 297, 226-230.