Dr Sarah Johnson

Lecturer in Practice / Research Fellow

School/Department: Geography Geology & The Environment, School of



I am a Lecturer in Practice and Research Fellow at the School of Geography Geology and the Environment. I specialise in remote sensing and geospatial data focusing on monitoring human interaction with the land environment. I joined the University of Leicester in 2014 after many years working in the commercial geospatial services industry and have over 20 years’ experience working in the UK space sector. I have strong interests in building interdisciplinary partnerships with academic and non-academic partners working on scientific activities as well as on socially relevant topics with social scientists. I have a PhD in “High resolution polarimetric imaging of biophysical objects using synthetic aperture radar” from the University of Sheffield (available at


My research is focused around the use of remotely sensed and geospatial data for applications related to the land environment. In particular, I am interested in:

The link between environment and human health, currently focusing on issues related to greenspace and greenspace descriptors

Land cover/land use change mapping, especially with respect to long term multi-decadal change.

Water and hydrology, including flooding, soil moisture and wetlands.

Agricultural applications of remote sensing including livestock behaviour and impacts of climate change on agriculture.

Methods for establishing user requirements for remote sensing based services.

Interactions and scattering mechanisms between radar signals and natural targets on the Earth's surface.


Cole, B.; Smith, G.; de la Barreda-Bautista, B.; Hamer, A.; Payne, M.; Codd, T.; Johnson, S.C.M.; Chan, L.Y.; Balzter, H. (2022), "Dynamic Landscapes in the UK Driven by Pressures from Energy Production and Forestry — Results of the CORINE Land Cover Map 2018". Land, 11, 192.

Modugno, S., Johnson, S.C.M., Borrelli, P., Alam, E., Bezak, N., Balzter, H., (2022), “Analysis of human exposure to landslides with a GIS multiscale approach”, Natural Hazards, 

Charteris, A.F., Harris, P., Marsden, K.A., Harris, I.M., Guo, Z.,  Beaumont, D.A., Taylor, H., Sanfratello, G., Jones, D.L., Johnson, S.C.M., Whelan, M.J., Howden, N., Sint, H., Chadwick, D.R., Cárdenasa, L.M., (2021), “Within-field spatial variability of greenhouse gas fluxes from an extensive and intensive sheep-grazed pasture”, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 312. 

Zhu, Y., Li, X., Pearson, S., Wu, D., Sun, R., Johnson, S., Wheeler, J., Fang, S., (2019), "Evaluation of Fengyun-3C Soil Moisture Products Using In-Situ Data from the Chinese Automatic Soil Moisture Observation Stations: A Case Study in Henan Province", China, Water, 11(2), 248. 

Rivas Casado, M., Irvine, T., Johnson, S., Palma, M., Leinster, P., (2018), "The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to estimate direct tangible losses to residential properties from flood events: a case study of Cockermouth following the Desmond storm", Remote Sensing, 10(10), 1548.

Bebe, B.O., Johnson, S.C.M., Recha, C., Ochieng, R., Riamit, S.K. and Upton, C., (2017), "Resilient pastoralism: towards sustainable futures in Kenyan rangelands", Nature and Faune, 31(2), 36-38.

Ningthoujam, R.K.; Balzter, H.; Tansey, K.; Morrison, K.; Johnson, S.C.; Gerard, F.; George, C.; Malhi, Y.; Burbidge, G.; Doody, S.; Veck, N.; Llewellyn, G.M.; Blythe, T.; Rodriguez-Veiga, P.; van Beijma, S.; Spies, B.; Barnes, C.; Padilla-Parellada, M.; Wheeler, J.E.; Louis, V.; Potter, T.; Edwards-Smith, A.; Bermejo, J.P., (2016), "Airborne S-Band SAR for Forest Biophysical Retrieval in Temperate Mixed Forests of the UK". Remote Sensing, 8(7), 609.

Ningthoujam, R.K., Tansey, K., Balzter, H., Morrison, K., Johnson, S.C.M., Gerard, F., George, C., Burbidge, G., Doody, S., Veck, N., Llewellyn, G.M., Blythe, T., (2016), "Mapping Forest Cover and Forest Cover Change with Airborne S-Band Radar". Remote Sensing, 8(7), 577.

Comber, A., Balzter, H., Cole, B., Fisher, P., Johnson, S.C.M., Ogutu, B., (2016), "Methods to Quantify Regional Differences in Land Cover Change", Remote Sensing, 8(3), 176.

Comber, A., Davies, H., Pinder, D., Whittow, J.B., Woodhall, A. and Johnson, S.C.M., (2016), "Mapping Coastal Land Use Changes 1965-2014: Methods for Handling Historical Thematic Data", Transaction of the Institute of British Geographers. 

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