Denise Hick

Denise Hick


I am a PhD student in Earth Observation working with Prof. Guy Ziv and Prof. Pippa Chapman from the School of Geography at the University of Leeds.

My research focuses on mapping Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) and carbon fluxes over European agricultural land combining optical and Synesthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remotely-sensed data.

I graduated with an MSc in Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management from the University of Edinburgh in 2022. For my master’s dissertation, I developed a semi-automated Google Earth Engine solution to monitor water hyacinth blooms in Lake Victoria’s Winam Gulf (Kenya).

Research interests

It is estimated that the top 30cm of soil store 700Pg of carbon – this is almost equivalent to the quantity of carbon stored in the atmosphere (Kätterer et al., 2012). In the context of climate change, as well as increasing global population and food demand, agricultural land has been identified as a potential carbon sink (Paustian et al., 2019). Furthermore, increasing SOC levels have been shown to improve soil health, structure and fertility (ibid.).

As traditional measurement methods are expensive and time-consuming, there is a growing interest in monitoring agricultural SOC with remote sensing (Vaudour et al., 2022). I am currently working on improving methods to calculate bare soil spectral reflectance using Sentinel-2, Sentinel-1 and Google Earth Engine. The derived bare soil spectral information will be used together with the recently released LUCAS 2018 TOPSOIL SOC content and various Machine Learning techniques, such as Random Forest Regression, for SOC estimation in European cropland.




  • MSc Earth Observation and Geoinformation Management, University of Edinburgh (2022)
  • BSc Geography (Hons), University of Edinburgh (2021)