Professor Mal McMillan

Professor in Earth Observation

Research Overview


I am Co-Director of the joint Lancaster University-UKCEH 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, with a particular focus on utilising data from new satellite missions. I use these 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. You can find out more about some of my research under the publications tab below, or on my google scholar page.

Active Projects

Completed Projects

  • Sentinel-3 Performance Improvement for Ice Sheets (further details).
  • Sentinel-3 Tandem for Climate (further details).
  • Polar Monitoring Mission, Assessment & Consolidation of Requirements.

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: CryoSat-2 ThEMatic PrOducts | Cryo-TEMPO (Phase 2.1)
01/01/2022 → 31/12/2022

DSI: 4DGreenland
19/11/2020 → 18/11/2022

DSI: CryoSta-2 ThEMatic PrOducts | Cryo-TEMPO (Phase 1)
01/10/2020 → 31/12/2021

DSI: Antarctica4d - supplement
15/09/2020 → 14/09/2021

DSI: Earth Observation 4 Surface Mass Balance
01/09/2020 → 31/08/2022

DSI: Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)
01/08/2020 → 31/03/2023

DSI: Antarctica4d
15/11/2019 → 15/10/2022

Polar Monitoring Mission, Assessment and Consolidation of Requirements and Analysis of Campaign Data
03/12/2018 → 31/12/2021

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

SEOM- Sentinel 3 Performance Improvements for ICE sheets (“SPICE”)
01/11/2018 → 31/08/2019

Sentinel-3 Tandem for Climate (S3TC)
15/06/2018 → 31/12/2021

DSI: Fundamental Data Records for Altimetry (FDR4ALT)
01/01/1900 → …

NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling
01/01/1900 → …

  • Centre of Excellence in Environmental Data Science
  • DSI - Environment
  • Geospatial Data Science