Professor Heiko Balzter

Heiko BalzterProfessor of Physical Geography/ Director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research

Holder of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and the
Royal Geographical Society's Cuthbert Peek Award

Contact details

  • Telephone: 0116 252 3820
  • Email:
  • Office: Bennett Building, G04 (CLCR)

Personal details

Dipl.Ing. agr, PhD

I received the degree of Dipl. Ing. agr. (equivalent to MSc) from Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany, in 1994 and the Dr. agr. (PhD) from the same University in 1998. I am a research professor and Director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester and a Co-Investigator in the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation. I hold the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2011) and the Royal Geographical Society’s Cuthbert Peek Award ‘for advancing geographical knowledge of human impact through earth observation’ (2015).

After my PhD, I worked in the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, from 1998-2006, as Radar Remote Sensing Specialist, Head of the Biophysical Modelling Group and later Head of Section for Earth Observation. I was appointed to the Chair in Physical Geography at the University of Leicester in 2006 and served as Head of Department of Geography from 2008-2011.

I am leading the Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme in the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO). I am also a member of the NERC Food Security Evaluation Working Group, the Steering Committee of the NERC Airborne Remote Sensing Facility, and the AIRSAR Steering Board for the Satellite Applications Catapult and Airbus Defence and Space. I was Principal Investigator of the European Centre of Excellence in Earth Observation Research Training GIONET (€3.5m), and is involved in a broad research programme as principal or co-investigator, including the ESA project GLOBBIOMASS and the UK Space Agency International Partnership Projects Forests2020 and EASOS. I am also a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, member of the American Geophysical Union, British Ecological Society, Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society and Chartered Management Institute, as well as fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and the Royal Statistical Society. I won the President’s Cup for the Best Paper at the annual Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society conference 2009 and is a core member of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Peer Review College Panel C.

Impact, enterprise and outreach

I am a member of the editorial board of the MDPI journal “Remote Sensing" whose impact factor of 3.18 places it in the top 5 journals in the field of remote sensing in 2015. I am a national representative for the UK on the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Programme Board, a member of the NERC Expert Group on Food Security, and an expert group by the Valuing Nature Network on ‘Key principles of economic valuation’.

Industrial companies often support research financially, and I have active collaborations with the Satellite Applications Catapult, Bluesky International, Astrium Geoinformation, Sterling Geo, Geospatial Insight, Ukall Ltd. and a number of other companies.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a member of the American Geophysical Union, British Ecological Society, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and member of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society as well as the Chartered Management Institute.



My teaching interests are in Earth Observation and how it can be used to assess ecosystem services. I currently convene and teach on the MSc module GY7310-Geographical Analysis of Ecosystem Services. I also teach on Environmental Change in Africa in GY3355 Global Environmental Change.


  • Garcia M, Saatchi S, Ferraz A, Silva CA, Ustin S, Koltunov A, Balzter H (2017) Impact of data model and point density on aboveground forest biomass estimation from airborne LiDAR. Carbon balance and management, 12 (1), pp. 4 10.1186/s13021-017-0073-1
  • Zhang Y, Balzter H, Liu B, Chen Y (2017) Analyzing the Impacts of Urbanization and Seasonal Variation on Land Surface Temperature Based on Subpixel Fractional Covers Using Landsat Images. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, 10 (4), pp. 1344-1356 10.1109/JSTARS.2016.2608390
  • Hamad R, Balzter H, Kolo K (2017) Multi-Criteria Assessment of Land Cover Dynamic Changes in Halgurd Sakran National Park (HSNP), Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Using Remote Sensing and GIS. Land, 6 (1), pp. 18-18 10.3390/land6010018
  • Barnes C, Balzter H, Barrett K, Eddy J, Milner S, Suarez J (2017) Individual Tree Crown Delineation from Airborne LiDAR for Diseased Larch Forest Stands. Remote Sensing, 9 (3), pp. 231-231 10.3390/rs9030231
  • Arellano P, Tansey K, Balzter H, Boyd DS (2017) Field spectroscopy and radiative transfer modelling to assess impacts of petroleum pollution on biophysical and biochemical parameters of the Amazon rainforest. Environmental Earth Sciences, 76 (5) 10.1007/s12665-017-6536-6
  • Rodriguez-Veiga P, Wheeler J, Louis V, Tansey K, Balzter H (2017) Quantifying forest biomass carbon stocks from space. Current Forestry Reports, 10.1007/s40725-017-0052-5
  • Garcia M, Saatchi S, Casas A, Koltunov A, Ustin S, Ramirez C, Garcia-Gutierrez J, Balzter H (2017) Quantifying biomass consumption and carbon release from the California Rim fire by integrating airborne LiDAR and Landsat OLI data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122 (2), pp. 340-353 10.1002/2015JG003315
  • Arellano P, Tansey K, Balzter H, Tellkamp M (2017) Plant Family-Specific Impacts of Petroleum Pollution on Biodiversity and Leaf Chlorophyll Content in the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador. PLOS ONE, 12 (1) 10.1371/journal.pone.0169867
  • Rodriguez-Veiga P, Saatchi S, Tansey K, Balzter H (2016) Magnitude, spatial distribution and uncertainty of forest biomass stocks in Mexico. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 183, pp. 265-281 10.1016/j.rse.2016.06.004
  • Rasul A, Balzter H, Smith C (2016) Diurnal and Seasonal Variation of Surface Urban Cool and Heat Islands in the Semi-Arid City of Erbil, Iraq. Climate, 10.3390/cli4030042
  • Martín F, Navarro V, Molfulleda A, Balzter H, Nicolas-Perea V, Towler M (2016) Use of penetrating GNSS signals for measuring soil moisture. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, SP-740 ISBN13: 9789292213053
  • Ningthoujam RK, Tansey K, Balzter H, Morrison K, Johnson SCM, Gerard F, George C, Burbidge G, Doody S, Veck N, Llewellyn GM, Blythe T (2016) Mapping Forest Cover and Forest Cover Change with Airborne S-Band Radar. REMOTE SENSING, 8 (7) 10.3390/rs8070577
  • Ningthoujam RK, Balzter H, Tansey K, Morrison K, Johnson SCM, Gerard F, George C, Malhi Y, Burbidge G, Doody S, Veck N, Llewellyn GM, Blythe T, Rodriguez-Veiga P, van Beijma S, Spies B, Barnes C, Padilla-Parellada M, Wheeler JEM, Louis V, Potter T, Edwards-Smith A, Bermejo JP (2016) Airborne S-Band SAR for Forest Biophysical Retrieval in Temperate Mixed Forests of the UK. REMOTE SENSING, 8 (7) 10.3390/rs8070609
  • Modugno S, Balzter H, Cole B, Borrelli P (2016) Mapping regional patterns of large forest fires in Wildland-Urban Interface areas in Europe. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, 172, pp. 112-126 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.02.013
  • Comber A, Balzter H, Cole B, Fisher P, Johnson SCM, Ogutu B (2016) Methods to Quantify Regional Differences in Land Cover Change. REMOTE SENSING, 8 (3) 10.3390/rs8030176
  • Balzter H, Baade J, Rodgers K (2016) Validation of the Tandem-X Intermediate Digital Elevation Model with Airborne LiDAR and Differential GNSS in Kruger National Park. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 13 (2), pp. 277-281 10.1109/LGRS.2015.2509500
  • Bispo PC, Dos Santos JR, Valeriano MM, Graça PM, Balzter H, França H, Bispo PC (2016) Predictive Models of Primary Tropical Forest Structure from Geomorphometric Variables Based on SRTM in the Tapajos Region, Brazilian Amazon. PloS one, 11 (4), pp. e0152009-e0152009
  • Stelmaszczuk-Górska MA, Rodriguez-Veiga P, Ackermann N, Thiel C, Balzter H, Schmullius C (2016) Non-Parametric Retrieval of Aboveground Biomass in Siberian Boreal Forests with ALOS PALSAR Interferometric Coherence and Backscatter Intensity. J. Imaging, 210.3390/jimaging2010001
  • Hoscilo A, Balzter H, Bartholomé E, Boschetti M, Brivio PA, Brink A, Clerici M, Pekel J-F (2015) A conceptual model for assessing rainfall and vegetation trends in Sub-Saharan Africa from satellite data. International Journal of Climatology, 35, pp. 3582-3592 10.1002/joc.4231
  • Rasul A, Balzter H, Smith C (2015) Spatial variation of the daytime Surface Urban Cool Island during the dry season in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, from Landsat 8. Urban Climate, 14, pp. 176-186 10.1016/j.uclim.2015.09.001
  • Balzter H, Cole B, Thiel C, Schmullius C (2015) Mapping CORINE Land Cover from Sentinel-1A SAR and SRTM Digital Elevation Model Data using Random Forests. REMOTE SENSING, 7 (11), pp. 14876-14898 10.3390/rs71114876
  • Zhang Y, Balzter H, Zou C, Xu H, Tang F (2015) Characterizing bi-temporal patterns of land surface temperature using landscape metrics based on sub-pixel classifications from Landsat TM/ETM. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATION AND GEOINFORMATION, 42, pp. 87-96 10.1016/j.jag.2015.06.007
  • Boori MS, Balzter H, Choudhary K, Vozenílek V (2015) Land Surface Temperature and Scaling Factors for Different Satellite Datasets. Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 4 (223) 10.4172/jgg.1000223
  • Stratoulias D, Balzter H, Sykioti O, Zlinszky A, Toth VR (2015) Evaluating Sentinel-2 for Lakeshore Habitat Mapping Based on Airborne Hyperspectral Data. SENSORS, 15 (9), pp. 22956-22969 10.3390/s150922956
  • Arellano P, Tansey K, Balzter H, Boyd DS (2015) Detecting the effects of hydrocarbon pollution in the Amazon forest using hyperspectral satellite images. Environ Pollut, 205, pp. 225-239 10.1016/j.envpol.2015.05.041
  • Zlinszky A, Heilmeier H, Balzter H, Czucz B, Pfeifer N (2015) Remote Sensing and GIS for Habitat Quality Monitoring: New Approaches and Future Research. REMOTE SENSING, 7 (6), pp. 7987-7994 10.3390/rs70607987
  • Ibrahim YZ, Balzter H, Kaduk J, Tucker CJ (2015) Land Degradation Assessment using Residual Trend Analysis of GIMMS NDVI3g, Soil Moisture and Rainfall in Sub-Saharan West Africa from 1982-2012. Remote Sensing, 7, pp. 5471-5494 10.3390/rs70505471
  • Balzter H, Tate NJ, Kaduk J, Harper D, Page S, Morrison R, Muskulus M, Jones P (2015) Multi-Scale Entropy Analysis as a Method for Time-Series Analysis of Climate Data. Climate, 3 (1), pp. 227-240
  • Palmer SCJ, Présing M, Horváth H, Tóth VR, Balzter H, Hunter PD, Spyrakos E, Tyler AN, Lankester T, Hubbard S, Lamb A (2015) Validation of Envisat MERIS algorithms for chlorophyll retrieval in a large, turbid and optically-complex shallow lake. Remote Sensing of Environment, 157, pp. 158-169 10.1016/j.rse.2014.07.024
  • Stratoulias D, Balzter H, Zlinszky A, Tóth VR (2015) Assessment of ecophysiology of lake shore reed vegetation based on chlorophyll fluorescence, field spectroscopy and hyperspectral airborne imagery. Remote Sensing of Environment, 157, pp. 72-84 10.1016/j.rse.2014.05.021
  • Pandey PC, Tate NJ, Balzter H (2014) Mapping tree species in coastal portugal using statistically segmented principal component analysis and other methods. IEEE Sensors Journal, 14 (12), pp. 4434-4441 10.1109/JSEN.2014.2335612
  • Bibi UM, Kaduk JD, Balzter H (2014) Spatial-Temporal Variation and Prediction of Rainfall in Northeastern Nigeria. Climate, 2 (3), pp. 206-222 10.3390/cli2030206
  • Lehsten V, De Groot WJ, Flannigan M, George C, Harmand P, Balzter H (2014) Wildfires in boreal ecoregions: Evaluating the power law assumption and intra-annual and interannual variations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 119 (1), pp. 14-2310.1002/2012JG002252
  • Archibald A, Balzter H, Monks PS, Remedios JJ, Roth R, Smith T (2013) Remote Sensing Education for Life Long Learning across the East Midlands Region. Journal of Earth Science and Engineering, 3, pp. 331-336
  • Lynch J, Maslin M, Balzter H, Sweeting M (2013) Choose satellites to monitor deforestation. NATURE, 496 (7445), pp. 293-294
  • Zhang Y, Balzter H, Wu X (2013) Spatial-temporal patterns of urban anthropogenic heat discharge in Fuzhou, China, observed from sensible heat flux using Landsat TM/ETM+ data. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 34 (4), pp. 1459-1477 10.1080/01431161.2012.718465
  • Palmer SCJ, Pelevin VV, Goncharenko I, Kovács AW, Zlinszky A, Présing M, Horváth H, Nicolás-Perea V, Balzter H, Tóth VR (2013) Ultraviolet Fluorescence LiDAR (UFL) as a Measurement Tool for Water Quality Parameters in Turbid Lake Conditions. Remote Sensing, 5, pp. 4405-4422 10.3390/rs5094405
  • Balzter H (2013) Remote sensing and global environmental change, by Samuel Purkis and Victor KlemasChichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, xii + 367 pp., €51.90 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-4443-3935-2. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 27, pp. 1688-168910.1080/13658816.2013.780608
  • Khalefa E, Balzter H, Comber AJ, Archibald S, Nickless A, Smit I (2013) Retrieval of savannah vegetation height from ICESat-GLAS spaceborne LiDAR with terrain correction. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 10, pp. 1439-1443
  • Remedios J, Balzter H, Burrows J, Eves S, Johnson M, Lavender S, Monks P, O'Neill A, Shepherd A (2012) Earth observation: A revolutionary leap into the future. Astronomy and Geophysics, 53 (3) 10.1111/j.1468-4004.2012.53316.x
  • Carrara P, Wells A, Balzter H, Bartholome E, Podaire A (2012) Introduction to the special issue: Satellite Remote Sensing in the Service of Regional and Local Authorities. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 45 (2), pp. 261-262 10.5721/EuJRS20124523
  • Hoscilo A, Balzter H, Bartholomé E, Boschetti M, Brivio PA, Brink A (2011) Changes in vegetation and rainfall patterns in sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade observed by satellites - A national and sub-national synthesis. International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), pp. 2480-2483 10.1109/IGARSS.2011.6049714
  • Le Toan T, Quegan S, Davidson MWJ, Balzter H, Paillou P, Papathanassiou K, Plummer S, Rocca F, Saatchi S, Shugart H, Ulander L (2011) The BIOMASS mission: Mapping global forest biomass to better understand the terrestrial carbon cycle. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115 (11), pp. 2850-2860 10.1016/j.rse.2011.03.020
  • Ghent D, Kaduk J, Remedios J, Balzter H (2011) Data assimilation into land surface models: the implications for climate feedbacks. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 32 (3), pp. 617-632 10.1080/01431161.2010.517794
  • Smith DR, Kaduk JD, Balzter H, Wooster MJ, Mottram GN, Lynham TJ, Studens J, Curry J, Hartley G, Stocks BJ (2010) Soil respiration in a fire scar chronosequence of Canadian boreal jack pine forest. Biogeosciences, 7, pp. 1375-1381 10.5194/bg-7-1375-2010
  • Ghent D, Balzter H, Kaduk J (2010) Assimilation of remote sensing data into land-surface models: The importance of uncertainty estimation to the filter performance. Accuracy 2010 - Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Spatial Accuracy Assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, pp. 121-123
  • Tighe ML, King D, Balzter H, McNairn H (2009) Comparison of X/C-HH InSAR and L-PolInSAR for canopy height estimation in a Lodgepole pine forest. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, 668 SP
  • Bartsch A, Balzter H, George C (2009) The influence of regional surface soil moisture anomalies on forest fires in Siberia observed from satellites. Environmental Research Letters, 4
  • Tansey K, Balzter H, Hoscilo A, Luckman A, Page SE (2009) Relationships between tropical, temperate and boreal forest variables and palsar data. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, 664 SP ISBN13: 9789292212285
  • Cuevas González M, Gerard F, Balzter H, Riaño D (2009) Analysing forest recovery after wildfire disturbance in boreal Siberia using remotely sensed vegetation indices. Global Change Biology, 15 (3), pp. 561-577 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01784
  • Lehsten V, Tansey K, Balzter H, Thonicke K, Spessa A, Weber U, Smith B, Arneth A (2009) Estimating carbon emissions from African wildfires. Biogeosciences, 6 (3), pp. 349-360
  • Smith DR, Kaduk JD, Balzter H, Wooster MJ, Mottram GN, Lynham TJ, Studens J, Curry J, Hartley G, Stocks BJ (2009) Soil respiration in a fire scar chronosequence of Canadian boreal jack pine forest. 6, pp. 8725-8773
  • Balzter H (2009) Remote Sensing and Earth Observation. In: Castree N, Demeritt D, Liverman D, Rhoads B (Eds.) A Companion to Environmental Geography
  • Wadsworth R, Balzter H, Gerard F, George C, Comber L, Fisher P (2008) An environmental assessment of land cover and land use change in Central Siberia using quantified conceptual overlaps to reconcile inconsistent data sets. Journal of Land Use Science, 3 (4), pp. 251-26410.1080/17474230802559629
  • Rowland CS, Balzter H, Dawson TP, Luckman A, Patenaude G, Skinner L (2008) Airborne SAR monitoring of tree growth in a coniferous plantation. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29 (13), pp. 3873-3889 10.1080/01431160801891796
  • Cuevas González M, Gerard F, Balzter H, Riaño D (2008) Studying the change in fAPAR after forest fires in Siberia using MODIS. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 29 (23), pp. 6873-6892 10.1080/01431160802238427
  • George C, Gerard F, Balzter H, Kaduk J, Smith D, Mottram G, Roberts G, Wooster M (2007) Estimated daily carbon emissions from boreal forest fires for Siberia and Canada. Proceedings, 32nd International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment: Sustainable Development Through Global Earth Observations,
  • Balzter , H , Gerard , F , Weedon , G , Grey , W , Combal , B , Bartholome , E , Bartalev , S , Los , S (2007) Coupling of vegetation growing season anomalies with hemispheric and regional scale climate patterns in Central and East Siberia. Journal of Climate, 20 (15), pp. 3713-372910.1175/JCLI4226
  • Rowland C, Balzter H (2007) Data fusion for reconstruction of a DTM from L-band airborne InSAR under semi-natural, deciduous woodland. IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 45 (5), pp. 1154-1163 10.1109/TGRS.2007.893565
  • Balzter H, Rowland CS, Saich P (2007) Forest canopy height and carbon estimation at Monks Wood National Nature Reserve, UK, using dual-wavelength SAR interferometry. Remote Sensing of the Environment, 108 (3), pp. 224-239 10.1016/j.rse.2006.11.014
  • Balzter H, Luckman A, Skinner L, Rowland C, Dawson T (2007) Observations of forest stand top height and mean height from interferometric SAR and LIDAR over a conifer plantation at Thetford Forest, UK. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 28 (6), pp. 1173-119710.1080/01431160600904998
  • Balzter H, Gonzalez MC, Gerard F, Riano D (2007) Post-fire vegetation phenology in Siberian burn scars. IGARSS: 2007 IEEE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOLS 1-12, pp. 4652-+ ISBN13: 978-1-4244-1211-2
  • Nilsson S, Shvidenko A, Jonas M, McCallum I, Thomson A, Balzter H (2007) Uncertainties of a Regional Terrestrial Biota Full Carbon Account: A Systems Analysis. Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 7, pp. 425-441 10.1007/s11267-006-9119-1
  • Balzter H, Gerard F, Weedon G, Grey W, Los S, Combal B, Bartholome E, Bartalev S (2007) Climate, vegetation phenology and forest fires in Siberia. IGARSS: 2007 IEEE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOLS 1-12, pp. 3843-+ ISBN13: 978-1-4244-1211-2
  • Jupp TE, Taylor CM, Balzter H, George CT (2006) A statistical model linking Siberian forest fire scars with early summer rainfall anomalies. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 33 (14) 10.1029/2006GL026679
  • George C, Gerard F, Rowland C, Balzter H (2006) Retrospective mapping of burnt areas in Central Siberia using A Modification of the Normalised Difference Water Index. Remote Sensing of the Environment, 104, pp. 346-359 10.1016/j.rse.2006.05.015
  • Onuchin A, Balzter H, Borisova H, Blyth E (2006) Climatic and Geographic Patterns of river-runoff formation in Northern Eurasia. Advances in Accounting, 29 (9), pp. 1314-1327 10.1016/j.advwatres.2005.10.006
  • Hinsley S, Hill R, Bellamy P, Balzter H (2006) The application of LiDAR in woodland bird ecology: climate, canopy structure, and habitat quality. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 72, pp. 1399-1406
  • Mottram GN, Wooster M, Balzter H, George C, Gerrard F, Beisley J (2005) The use of MODIS-derived fire radiative power to characterise Siberian boreal forest fires. Proceedings, 31st International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, ISRSE 2005: Global Monitoring for Sustainability and Security,
  • Santoro M, Balzter H, George CT, Gerard F, Hese S, Roscher M, Rowland C, Schmullius C (2005) Siberia-II: Monitoring forest cover changes in Siberia by means of spaceborne data. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, (572), pp. 2279-2287
  • Balzter H, Gerard FF, George CT, Rowland CS, Jupp TE, McCallum I, Shvidenko A, Nilsson S, Sukhinin A, Onuchin A, Schmullius C (2005) Impact of the Arctic Oscillation pattern on interannual forest fire variability in Central Siberia. Geophysical Research Letters, 32 (14), pp. L14709.1-L14709.4 10.1029/2005GL022526
  • Bradbury RB, Hill RA, Mason DC, Hinsley SA, Wilson JD, Balzter H, Anderson GQA, Whittingham MJ, Davenport IJ, Bellamy PE (2005) Modelling relationships between birds and vegetation structure using airborne LiDAR data: a review with case studies from agricultural and woodland environments. IBIS, 147, pp. 443-452
  • Tansey K, Luckman A, Skinner L, Balzter H, Strozzi T, Wagner W (2004) Classification of forest volume resources using ERS tandem coherence and JERS intensity data. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 25 (4), pp. 751-768 10.1080/0143116031000149970
  • Kamaruddin MH, Mather PM, Balzter H (2004) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) generation using airborne SAR interferometry (InSAR). REMOTE SENSING IN TRANSITION, pp. 261-265 ISBN10: 90-5966-007-2
  • Kamaruddin MH, Abdul Hamid JR, Mather PM, Balzter H (2003) Digital elevation model (DEM) generation from SAR interferometry. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, (529), pp. 265-270
  • Rowland C, Balzter H, Cox R, Saich P, Stebler O (2003) The CORSAR project: Can polarimateric SAR interferometry improve forest biomass estimation?. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, (529), pp. 191-196
  • Balzter H, Cox R, Rowland C, Saich P (2003) Forest canopy height mapping from dual-wavelength SAR interferometry. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, (529), pp. 341-346
  • Wagner , W , Luckman , A , Vietmeier , J , Tansey , K , Balzter , H , Schmullius , C , Davidson , M , Gaveau , D , Gluck , M , Toan L, T , Quegan , S , Shvidenko , A , Wiesmann , A , Yu , J J, 2003 , Environment RSO, 85 , 125-144 (2003) Large-scale mapping of boreal forest in SIBERIA using ERS tandem coherence and JERS backscatter data. Remote Sensing of the Environment, 85 (2), pp. 125-144 10.1016/S0034-4257(02)00198-0
  • Barnsley MJ, Los SO, Luckman A, North PRJ, Harding RJ, Taylor C, Huntley B, Baxter B, Thomas C, Balzter H, Wyatt B (2003) The role of earth observation in land-surface - climate feedback studies. GEOINFORMATION FOR EUROPEAN-WIDE INTEGRATION, pp. 3-10 ISBN10: 90-77017-71-2
  • Balzter H, Skinner L, Luckman A, Brooke R (2003) Estimation of tree growth in a conifer plantation over nineteen years from multi-satellite L-band SAR. Remote Sensing of the Environment, 84, pp. 184-191
  • George CT, Gerard F, Balzter H, McCallum I, Shvidenko A, Nilsson S, Schmullius C (2003) Disturbances in the Siberian boreal forest - Mapping fire-scars using a multi-temporal, multi-sensor approach. IGARSS 2003: IEEE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOLS I - VII, PROCEEDINGS, pp. 491-493 ISBN10: 0-7803-7929-2
  • Balzter H, Rowland C, Milne R, Stebler O, Patenaude G, Dawson T, Saich P (2003) Potential of polarimetric SAR interferometry for forest carbon accounting. IGARSS 2003: IEEE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOLS I - VII, PROCEEDINGS, pp. 1945-1947 ISBN10: 0-7803-7929-2
  • Gaveau DLA, Balzter H, Plummer S (2003) Forest woody biomass classification with satellite-based radar coherence over 900 000 km2 in Central Siberia. Forest Ecology and Management, 174, pp. 65-75 10.1016/S0378-1127(02)00028-2
  • Rowland CS, Balzter H, Dawson TP, Luckman A, Skinner L, Patenaude G (2003) Biomass estimation of Thetford forest from L-band SAR data: potential and limitations. IGARSS 2003: IEEE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOLS I - VII, PROCEEDINGS, pp. 2577-2579 ISBN10: 0-7803-7929-2
  • Gerard F, Plummer S, Wadsworth R, Ferreruela A, Iliffe L, Balzter H, Wyatt B (2003) Forest fire scar detection in the boreal forest with multi-temporal SPOT-VEGETATION. IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 41, pp. 2575-2585
  • Hese S, Schmullius C, Balzter H (2003) Afforestation, Re- and deforestation monitoring in Siberia - Accuracy requirements and first results. IGARSS 2003: IEEE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOLS I - VII, PROCEEDINGS, pp. 4599-4601 ISBN10: 0-7803-7929-2
  • Balzter H, Talmon E, Wagner W, Gaveau D, Plummer S, Yu JJ, Quegan S, Davidson M, Le Toan T, Gluck M, Shvidenko A, Nilsson S, Tansey K, Luckman A, Schmullius C (2002) Accuracy assessment of a large-scale forest map of Central Siberia from Synthetic Aperture Radar.Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 28 (6), pp. 719-737
  • Balzter H, Saich P, Luckman AJ, Skinner L, Grant J (2002) Forest stand structure from airborne polarimetric InSAR. PROCEEDINGS OF THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON RETRIEVAL OF BIO- AND GEOPHYSICAL PARAMETERS FROM SAR DATA FOR LAND APPLICATIONS, 475, pp. 321-326 ISBN10: 92-9092-741-0
  • Balzter H, Baker JR, Tomppo E, Hallikainen M (2002) Retrieval of timber volume and snow water equivalent over a Finnish boreal forest from airborne polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 23, pp. 3185-3208
  • Balzter H (2001) Forest mapping and monitoring with interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR). Progress in Physical Geography, 25, pp. 159-177
  • Balzter H, Schmullius C (2001) Mapping siberian forests. Geomatics Info Magazine, 15 (1), pp. 40-43
  • Saich P, Balzter H, Luckman A, Skinner L (2001) Deriving forest characteristics using polarimetric InSAR measurements and models. IGARSS 2001: SCANNING THE PRESENT AND RESOLVING THE FUTURE, VOLS 1-7, PROCEEDINGS, pp. 3096-3098 ISBN10: 0-7803-7031-7
  • Luckman A, Tansey K, Strozzi T, Skinner L, Balzter H (2000) Global forest classification using JERS and tandem ERS data. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, (461), pp. 1804-1809
  • Balzter H, Talmon E, Gaveau D, Plummer S, Yu JJ, Quegan S, Gluck M, Tansey K, Luckman A, Wagner W, Schmullius C (2000) Accuracy assessment issues in the SIBERIA project. European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP, (461), pp. 1776-1783
  • Quegan S, Yu JJ, Balzter H, LeToan T (2000) Combining unsupervised and knowledge-based methods in large-scale forest classification. IGARSS 2000: IEEE 2000 INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING SYMPOSIUM, VOL I - VI, PROCEEDINGS, pp. 426-428 ISBN10: 0-7803-6359-0
  • Balzter H (2000) Markov chain models for vegetation dynamics. Ecological Modelling, 126, pp. 139-154
  • Gaveau DLA, Balzter H, Plummer S (2000) Boreal forest INSAR classification properties. CEOS SAR WORKSHOP, 450, pp. 509-512 ISBN10: 92-9092-641-4
  • Balzter H, Braun PW, Köhler W (1998) Cellular automata models for vegetation dynamics. Ecological Modelling, 107, pp. 113-125
  • Braun P, Balzter H, Köhler W (1996) Die Erfassung der Vegetationsdynamik einer teilweise brachen Wiese in Raum und Zeit. (Assessment of Vegetation Dynamics of a Partially Fallow Meadow in Space and Time). ZEITSCHRIFT FUER AGRARINFORMATIK, 3, pp. 42-45
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  • Dahdal B, Tansey K, Balzter H, Page SE (0) The use of interferometric spaceborne radar and GIS to map burn scars and measure peat subsidence in Indonesia. RSPSoc 2009 Annual Conference, pp. 303-308
  • Wagner W, Vietmeier J, Schmullius C, le Toan T, Davidson M, Quegan S, Yu JJ, Luckman A, Tansey K, Balzter H, Gaveau D (0) The use of coherence information derived from ERS tandem pairs for determining forest stock volume in SIBERIA. Proceedings IGARSS'2000, pp. 1396-1398
  • Fuchs R, Tansey K, Balzter H, Hoscilo A, Schmullius C, Page SE (0) Monitoring the regrowth of vegetation after disturbance using radar time series data for peatlands in Indonesia. RSPSoc 2009 Annual Conference, pp. 764-774
  • Balzter H, Talmon E, Yu JJ, Quegan S, Gaveau D, Gluck M, Nilsson S, Tansey K, Oeskog S, Roth A, Schmullius C (0) Accuracy assessment of a large-scale forest map of Central Siberia derived from multi-sensor satellite-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar interferometry (InSAR). 4th International Symposium on Spatial Accuracy Assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, pp. 31-34


The Centre for Landscape and Climate Research

I am director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research which specialises in research in field of Spatial Ecohydrology for monitoring of biophysical ecosystem services and natural capital. This involves investigating the complex interactions of the water cycle with biogeochemical cycles and plants and animals in ecosystems. We use ground-based, airborne and spaceborne remote sensing, geospatial analysis methods, high-performance computer model simulations and field survey techniques.

Research in the Centre currently focuses on Earth observation for biodiversity and ecosystem services, pioneering the uses of satellite and other data to measure the spatial patterns and temporal dynamics in ecosystem services provision. Remote sensing of forests and agricultural systems for climate mitigation and food security form the core of this research.

My research focuses on contemporary environmental change processes related to climate change and human impacts on biogeochemical cycles and biophysical systems. As a result of a combination of natural and human-induced processes, climate change is occurring at unprecedented speed. Climate change as a global challenge requires a reliable global monitoring and forecasting system to deliver information that policy makers and business leaders can trust. Satellite remote sensing systems are now delivering operational observations from space that have revealed unknown features of Planet Earth.

A key unknown at present is the role of feedbacks between different Earth system components in determining future trajectories of climate change. In order to better understand land/atmosphere interactions, I am pursuing the following research areas:

Remote sensing of forests

Forest ecosystems play a crucial role in global biogeochemical cycles and in stabilising the climate system. Through heterotrophic and autotrophic respiration and fires they release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and through photosynthetic carbon sequestration they reduce the atmospheric fraction of carbon dioxide. Deforestation is thought to be a major contributing factor to global anthropogenic carbon emissions. Global initiatives such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) aim to protect forest resources in support of climate mitigation policies. The geographic locations and strengths of global terrestrial carbon sources and sinks and their temporal variability are still subject to much speculation. I have developed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and LIDAR techniques for mapping forest canopy height and forest biomass. I am principal investigator in many satellite data exploitation programmes including TerraSAR-X, Tandem-X, Disaster Monitoring Constellation, ENVISAT, ERS-1/2, Sentinel-1 and 2, JERS-1, NovaSAR-S, ALOS and ALOS-2. The paper in Nature by Lynch et al. (2013) makes the case for radar satellites for forest monitoring.

I have had a long-standing involvement in the Copernicus programme that established the European land monitoring core service. In 2014 my group completed the delivery of the UK CORINE land cover map 2012 for the GIO-Land programme. Some of our forest-related research is co-funded by industry, for example on tree disease mapping from airborne data (Barnes et al. 2017).

In NCEO and Forests2020, I am working with the Kenya Forest Service to derive better information on Kenya's forest resources from satellite data. In the ESA project GLOBBIOMASS, which has the aim to produce a global forest biomass map, I am leading the task on Regional Case Studies.

The study by Arellano et al. (2015) is one of the top 25 most downloaded papers from Environmental Pollution. It found that remote sensing can detect oil pollution underneath dense rainforest canopies in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Land/atmosphere interactions

The land surface interacts with the atmosphere through the exchange of carbon, water and energy, and feeds back to climate change processes. Two eddy covariance flux towers on lowland peatland in the East Anglian Fens are continously measuring carbon, water and energy fluxes under different land uses. Modugno et al. (2016) is the first published map of the risk to large wildfires in Europe in 'wildland/urban interface areas' where wild vegetation is encroaching on cities. In my recent paper in the journal Climate (Balzter et al. 2015) we found subtle changes in the temporal scales of variability of Central European air temperature anomalies since 1960 in comparison to the earlier period from 1850-1960, using a technique called Multi-Scale Sample Entropy analysis. This method is able to detect changes in time-series data that are invisible to other standard data analysis methods.

A method for monitoring environmental land condition at continental scale for Africa was devised in our paper by Hoscilo et al. (2015). It found significant drying / wetting trends and greening / browning trends for several regions in Africa and attributed them to climatic and non-climatic drivers.


Research areas for PhD supervision

Forest monitoring, Earth observation, Remote Sensing, Satellites, Deforestation, REDD+

I am interested in supervising students on the following topics:

  • Methods for using the Copernicus Sentinel satellites for forest monitoring (tree diseases, biomass, disturbances)
  • Democratisation of access to free Earth observation data of forests
  • Non-carbon benefits of preserving forest ecosystems

Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research (CLCR), please make informal enquiries via or

Find out more information about Geography PhDs including more research areas, how to apply, funding and entry requirements.


Find out more about our current research postgraduates.

StudentThesis Title Other Supervisor(s)
Chloe Barnes Remote sensing methods for the identification of trees affected by invasive phytopathogens Dr Kirsten Barrett, James Eddy (Bluesky International) and Dr Juan Suarez (Forest Research)
Alex Cumming Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture on drained organic soils in eastern England Dr Jorg Kaduk and Prof Sue Page
Mark Collins UAV mounted ground-penetrating radar for archaeology applications Dr Mark Gillings (Dept of Archaeology)
Kampanat Deeudomchan Geoinformatics technology for estimating forestry carbon stocks in Thailand Prof. Susan Page

Rahel Hamad

GIS-based Assessment of the Halgord-Sakran National Park in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Prof. Kamal Kolo (Soran University, Kurdistan region of Iraq)
Isah Hamisu Climate Change Impacts on Grazing Animal Health in Nigeria Dr Jorg Kaduk
Andrea Hurtado de Mendoza Rosales Determining the effect of plant carbon allocation on the Climate–Carbon Cycle Feedback through variational Data Assimilation Dr Jorg Kaduk
Sa'ad Ibrahim Savanna tree/grass mapping from MODIS time-series analysis Dr Kevin Tansey
Ghazanfar Khattak Glacier Dynamics and Climate Change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, North Pakistan Dr Stewart Fishwick (Dept of Geology)
Valentin Louis Monitoring tropical forest clearance and plantation forest dynamics Paul Fearn (Geospatial Insight) and Prof Sue Page
Peshawa Najmaddin Evaluation of runoff depth for large catchment area by using remote sensing and GIS techniques to rain water harvesting Dr Mick Whelan
Ajoke Onojeghuo An analysis of air pollution in the Niger delta from remote sensing Prof Paul Monks (Dept of Chemistry)
Nkeiruka Onyia Assessment of methods for monitoring oil spill impacts on biodiversity in Nigeria Dr Juan-Carlos Berrio
Ana Maria Pacheco Pascagaza Integration of GLAS-Lidar, high resolution SAR imagery and Optical imagery for detecting forest degradation Dr Kirsten Barrett
Maryam Pourshamsi Extraction of forest dynamics and biophysical parameters using LiDAR and PolInSAR Data Fusion: A case study of Lope National Park, Gabon Dr. Kirsten Barrett
Thomas Potter Integrating forest allometric models, LiDAR and SAR remote sensing for monitoring deforestation and forest degradation at global scale Dr Kevin Tansey and Prof Nick Veck (Satellite Applications Catapult)
James Wheeler Forest monitoring of the Congo Basin using L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Dr Kevin Tansey


StudentThesis TitleLevel of AwardYear Awarded
Ramesh Ningthoujam Deforestation Monitoring and retrieval of forest biophysical parameters from S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar PhD 2016
Narissara Nuthammachot Deforestation monitoring in Thailand using remote sensing PhD 2016
Gong Pan Methane and carbon dioxide fluxes from a regenerating fenland in Cambridgeshire PhD 2016
Azad Rasul Investigating the urban heat island effect in the city of Erbil, Iraq using RS and GIS PhD 2016
Bernard Spies Multi-temporal, multi-frequency SAR for landscape dynamics PhD 2016
Yahaya Ibrahim Assessment of sensitive areas to desertification risk in semi-arid North-western Nigeria using GIS and Remote Sensing Techniques PhD 2016
Pedro Rodriguez-Veiga Global biomass information system PhD 2015
Hao Wang Impacts of Changes in the Regional Water Cycle and Climate Change on Carbon Fluxes the East Anglian Fens MPhil 2015
Prem Pandey Detecting and analysing the spread of exotic Acacias in West-Mediterranean biodiverse costal dunes with hyperspectral images and LiDAR PhD 2015
Dimitris Stratoulias Dynamics and conservation ecology of emergent and submerged macrophytes in Lake Balaton using airborne remote sensing PhD 2015
Stephanie Palmer Satellite remote sensing of water quality (chlorophyll and suspended sediment) using MODIS and ship-mounted LIDAR PhD 2014
Paul Arellano Hyperspectral remote sensing for detecting vegetation affected by hydrocarbons in the amazon forest PhD 2014
Zeinab Rezaee Ardestani GIS for assessing flood vulnerability in the UK PhD 2013
Umar Bibi The impact of climate variability and land cover change in North-eastern Nigeria PhD 2013
Ross Morrison Carbon fluxes from a regenerating fenland in Cambridgeshire PhD 2013
Lorraine Tighe Empirical assessment of commercial X/C/L-HH Band InSAR elevation data: Implications for canopy height mapping PhD 2012
Ehsan Khalefa Remote Sensing of savannah landscape structure using the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System PhD 2012
Bashar Dahdal The use of interferometric spaceborne radar and GIS to measure ground subsidence from peat soils in Indonesia PhD 2011
Darren Ghent Land Surface Modelling and Earth Observation of Land/Atmosphere Interactions in African Savannahs PhD 2010
Gareth Mottram Fire radiative power retrieval over boreal Eurasia PhD 2009
Daniel Smith Soil respiration in a fire scar chronosequence of Canadian boreal jack pine forest PhD 2009
Laine Skinner Estimating forest parameters from Synthetic Aperture Radar: A case study of Thetford Forest PhD 2002

Take a look at my Google Scholar profile for a full list of publications.


1. Kampanat Deeudomchan, “Geoinformatics technology for estimating foresy carbon stocks in Thailand”, with Prof. Susan Page

2. Rahel Hamad, “GIS-based Assessment of the Halgord-Sakran National Park in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq”, with Prof. Kamal Kolo (Soran University, Kurdistand region of Iraq)

3. Ana Maria Pacheco-Pascagaza “Integration of GLAS-Lidar, high resolution SAR imagery and Optical imagery for detecting forest degradation”, with Dr. Kirsten Barrett

4. Maryam Pourshamsi, “Extraction of forest dynamics and biophysical parameters using LiDAR and PolInSAR Data Fusion: A case study of Lope National Park, Gabon”, with Dr. Kirsten Barrett

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