School of GeoSciences Research

Space and satellite technology

Our innovative research in satellite observation and data modelling is making a difference from helping local environments and economies to informing national and international policies. We are monitoring environmental impacts, extreme weather and tackling climate change.

A satellite communications tower under the stars at night

Earth observation involves gathering information about the Earth's physical, chemical, and biological systems using remote sensing technologies such as satellites.

We are leading the way in harnessing the potential of Earth observation in the era of big data, using drone and satellite observations.  Through data-driven innovation, we are delivering new platforms, techniques and applications to analyse large Earth system datasets of varying size and veracity, analysed over different timescales to reflect differences in the timing of relevant decision-making.  

Our School leads the Space and Satellite Innovation Programme within the Bayes Centre as part of the University's Data-Driven Innovation Initiative within the Edinburgh Region City Deal.

We also lead the SENSE Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for Satellite Data in Environmental Science.  SENSE encourages multidisciplinary approaches and collaboration featuring partners across academia, industry, and the third sector.

We have won numerous awards for our data-driven research in space and satellites, including from the UK and European Space Agencies.

Forests, landscapes and agriculture

We have pioneered research in process-based modelling, data assimilation and remote sensing of forests. Our work has underpinned the development and implementation of national and international policies to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Carbon monitoring

Our team of researchers are world leaders in techniques used to estimate global terrestrial carbon fluxes from satellite data. Our work is helping governments around the world to meet the UN Paris Agreement goals on carbon stocktakes.

Ice-sheet and glacier melting

Our use of data and modelling of ice-sheet and glacier melting from the world's polar and high-mountain regions have fundamentally reduced uncertainties in estimates of future global sea-level rise. This work has provided key input to climate change decision-making by international policymakers.

Weather and extreme events

Through the use of better data for decision making, we can provide forecasts in near real-time. This work impacts the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, from everyday life and economies through to improving early awareness of catastrophic extreme weather events that can save lives.


Our staff have launched successful innovative start-ups that work closely with our School, University and industry partners.  Many have employed students and alumni and are working on projects with organisations such as the United Nations, Google, the Scottish Government, the European Space Agency and more.

Collaborate with us

We work with various organisations in the private sector, from start-ups, consultancies and SME's to large multi-national corporations, facilitated through our Business Development Team.  

We have over 100 academics engaged in world-leading research that can help organisations address today's big challenges.  Our academic staff regularly engage with organisations worldwide, providing independent advice and specialist expertise.

Working with business and industry

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Research Institutes

Much of our research is cross-cutting and collaborative across our research institutes, enabling us to tackle complex global challenges.

Global Change Institute

The Institute is a grouping of over 200 researchers whose overarching mission is to understand past, present and future changes in the Earth system and inform mitigation strategies for future change.

Global Change Institute​​

Geography and the Lived Environment Institute

The Institute is comprised of geographers and environmental scientists who study the social, cultural, political, economic and physical processes that create and reshape the world.

Geography and the Lived Environment Institute

The Bayes Centre

The Bayes Centre is the Universityʼs innovation hub for data science and artificial intelligence. The Centre is a community of over four hundred internationally recognised scientists, PhD students, leading industry experts and innovation support professionals in the mathematical, computational, engineering, and natural sciences. Through Dr Murray Collins, our School leads the Space and Satellite Innovation Programme within the Bayes Centre, which is part of the University's Data-Driven Innovation Initiative.

Visit the Bayes Centre website

SENSE Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for Satellite Data in Environmental Science

Our School is leading this new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), delivered jointly with the University of Leeds and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Space Agency. The Centre will train 50 PhD students to tackle cross-disciplinary environmental problems by applying state-of-the-art data science methods to the deluge of satellite data collected each day. Graduates will be supervised by a consortium of world-leading UK scientists, with topics co-developed with the UK's most innovative spatial data companies. 

Visit the SENSE CDT website