Dr Mal McMillan

Reader in Environmental Sensing

Research Overview


I am a Reader in Environmental Sensing, Co-Director of the joint Lancaster University-CEH Centre for Environmental Data Science, and co-lead for the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) land ice altimetry activities. My research uses satellite measurements to study Earth's polar regions, specifically the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

Research Interests

My interests lie in the continental-scale monitoring of Earth’s ice sheets. I use satellite data to assess how Greenland and Antarctica are changing, and what their contribution is to global sea level rise. More broadly, I aim to develop the observations required to understand the underlying forcing mechanisms that drive contemporary ice loss.

In recent years, I have been working primarily with the new generation of high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar altimeters, such as those flown onboard the Cryosat-2 and Sentinel-3 satellites. These new satellites allow us to monitor Antarctica, Greenland and smaller ice caps with unprecedented detail. You can find out more about some of my research under the publications tab below, or on my google scholar page.

Currently, I have several projects working on the development and assessment of processing algorithms for SAR altimetry over ice sheets:

I am also a member of several expert advisory groups for the European Space Agency:

More broadly, some of the research topics that I am currently interested in are:

  • SAR altimetry processing innovation over ice sheets.
  • New satellite altimeter mission concepts.
  • Assessments of Greenland Ice Sheet mass loss.
  • Mapping subglacial outburst floods using radar altimetry.
  • SAR altimeter measurements over glaciers and ice caps.
  • Uncertainty of ice sheet altimeter retrievals.


You can read about a selection of my research via the following links:

Career Details

2018 – present | Reader in Environmental Sensing | Lancaster University.

2018 | Associate Professor | University of Leeds.

2014 – 2018 | Academic Research Fellow | University of Leeds.

2012 – 2014 | Postdoctoral Researcher | University of Leeds.


2012 | PhD in Satellite Geodesy | University of Edinburgh

2006 | MSc in Remote Sensing & Image Processing | University of Edinburgh

2003 | MA in Mathematics & Philosophy | University of Edinburgh

PhD Opportunities

I am always keen to hear from motivated students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in satellite geodesy, Earth Observation, and Polar Science. I welcome enquiries from students with a background in subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Engineering and Computer Science, who are interested in applying numerical techniques to some of the most challenging environmental problems. If this is you then please get in touch to discuss current opportunities.

DSI: Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring
01/11/2018 → 31/03/2021