PhD position in Polar Climate Variability and Sea Ice Changes


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage more than 32,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global centre of knowledge.

The Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG) is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering ( ESRIG has formulated its mission: "Contribute to sustainable energy utilization and resource exploitation in the coming century for more people". Translated into practice this implies performing excellent energy and sustainability research, both fundamental, applied, and reflective. The institute's character is balanced, with research varying from experimental (laboratory and field experiments) to model studies and research into societal interaction with scientific knowledge. Interdisciplinary approach has always been a constitutive element of research and teaching activity at ESRIG, to be achieved through the mutual understanding and cooperation of different groups, from the Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society (IREES) to the Centre for Isotope Research; from the unit of Combustion Technology to Ocean Ecosystems (OE).

Job description

Polar climate is changing faster than other parts of the world owing to local feedbacks and remote influences (poleward moisture transport). This will affect polar climate variability, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and Arctic sea ice melt. As a result, local surface evaporation will increase, providing moisture that may lead to enhanced ice sheet accumulation. Hence, poleward moisture transport processes and variability will not only affect warming rates leading to surface melt, but also to enhanced precipitation, partly through sea ice changes. Within this project we aim to address these complex interactions by combining state-of-the-art climate models simulations of present-day and future climates with dedicated in-house sensitivity simulations with the Earth System Model EC-Earth. In this way we will examine the impacts of changes in both the mean climate and climate variability, and also consider extreme events (and trends therein) that may disproportionally affect ice sheet mass balance, both in the Arctic and in the Antarctic, with the focus on the potentially modulating role of sea ice. For example, strong (future) warming events over West-Antarctica caused by poleward moisture advection and sea ice retreat may trigger ice shelf instability and sea level rise.

This multidisciplinary project is part of a larger National Polar Programme project called "Dutch Polar Climate and Cryosphere Change Consortium" and will as such bring together specialists in climate change, ice sheet mass balance and sea level changes from various Dutch institutes and universities (RUG/ESRIG/OE, KNMI, IMAU/UU, Deltares, TUD, NIOZ). The PhD-candidate will be stationed at the Royal Netherland Meteorological Institute, KNMI (De Bilt), but is expected to work on average 1-2 days per week at RUG/ESRIG (Groningen).

At RUG/ESRIG you will further receive excellent training through innovative research projects, advanced courses and training opportunities, complemented by workshops on generic research, transferable skills and teaching. As a PhD candidate, you are committed to conduct independent and original scientific research, to report on this research in international publications and presentations, and to present the results of the research in a PhD dissertation, to be completed within 4 years. You are expected to contribute 10% of the overall workload to teaching.


We are looking for:

- a motivated, practically skillful candidate,
- a candidate with a MSc degree in climate, physics or a related subject and a strong interest in meteorology and climatology,
- a candidate with a background climate modelling and/or analyses,
- a candidate with experience in processing/analyzing large datasets (this will be considered an asset),
- a candidate with strong verbal and written communication skills (in English), as well as the ability to work independently and in a (diverse) team.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,395 in the first year to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the final year (PhD salary scale), based on a full-time position,
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income,
• an 8.3% year-end bonus.

The position is for four years. First you will be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate whether a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School Science and Engineering of the Faculty. The starting date is in Autumn 2020. The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources:

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include (please merge all documents into one PDF file):

• a cover letter with background and motivation to apply for this position (max 1 page)
• a curriculum vitae, including details of bachelor and master degrees, list of work experience as well as other skills and a publication list, if applicable
• a detailed (max 1 page) description of previous research experience, such as bachelor/master research projects. Indicate exactly your contribution
• contact details of 2 academic references who can provide information on your suitability for the position.

You may apply for this position until 20 September 11:59pm / before 21 September 2020 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click "Apply" below the advertisement on the Groningen University website).

Interviews are scheduled to take place in the period end September – early October 2020.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. R. (Richard) Bintanja

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 220274

Digital application form