Sally Wilson

Sally Wilson


Co-supervisors: Dr Isabel Nias, Dr He Wang

Twitter: @sallyy_wilson

I am a PhD student based at the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, within the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science. My PhD research involves investigating ice sheet surface height measurements from ESA’s CryoSat-2 satellite to identify and examine subglacial lakes in Antarctica. I also use SAR images from satellites such as Sentinel-1 to measure ice velocity, to assess the impacts of lake drainage events on ice dynamics. With this work I aim to contribute to a better understanding of ice sheet mechanics. I am funded by the NERC Panorama DTP, and am also lucky to be supported with additional training via the SENSE Earth Observation CDT. Last academinc year, I worked with the Alan Turing Institute on the PhD Enrichment Scheme.

I graduated from University College London in 2019 with an MSci in Geophysics, where my masters project used CryoSat-2 satellite radar altimetry for studying dynamic ocean topography in the Southern Ocean. After graduating I followed my interest in environmental remote sensing research through an industry route, working with the RAL Space Cloud and Aerosol Group, using optical images from ESA’s Sentinel-3 satellite mission to develop the use of satellite data for near real-time air pollution monitoring. I am passionate about monitoring and predicting environmental change to facilitate a more sustainable future on Earth, and communicating science with the public in innovative, accessible ways.


Cryosphere Training & Fieldwork

  • Karthaus Ice & Climate summer school, 2023
  • NERC BAS Advanced Training Short course, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, 2023

Conference Presentations

  • EGU, 2024 (oral): New Active Antarctic Subglacial Lakes using 10 years of CryoSat-2 Altimetry (
  • IGS British Branch, 2023 (poster): Subglacial Lake Detection in East Antarctica with Satellite Altimetry
  • IGS British Branch, 2022 (poster): Observations of Ice Velocity on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet with Sentinel-1
  • ESA Living Planet Symposium, 2022 (poster): Observations of Ice Velocity on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet with Sentinel-1


  • I was a panellist for the SENSE CDT Applications Webinar in December 2022, giving advice to prospective PhD students on applications and life as a postgrad at the University of Leeds: 
  • I co-hosted a Turing podcast in November 2022, chatting to Dr Tamsin Edwards about her recent lecture at the Royal Institution: “The Turing Lectures: How much can we limit the rising of the seas?” 
  • I co-organised the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (ICAS) internal seminar series 2022-23.
  • In the first year of my PhD I set up a monthly glaciology journal club for cryosphere science research groups across the School of Earth & Environment and the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, with a colleague, which we continue to run monthly.
  • I co-organised and ran a stall at the University of Leeds Be Curious 2022 open event, communicating Satellite Ice Dynamics research to young families and engaging with the public at all ages.
  • I volunteered on the Polar Impact Polar Portals project, which connects disadvantaged school children with polar explorers from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds via interactive postcards.

Student Education

  • Exploration Geophysics (masters)
  • Cryosphere Science (undergraduate)
  • Earth Observation of the Cryosphere (PhD)

Research interests

  • Earth Observation Remote Sensing
  • The Cryosphere
  • Geophysical Field Techniques
  • Ground-Truthing Satellite Data
  • Ice Sheet Modelling
  • Physical Oceanography
  • Climate Change & Policy
  • Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence


  • MSci Geophysics, University College London

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science