Postdoc position: "To determine the consequences of large-scale sand extractions on the North Sea"

Postdoc position: "To determine the consequences of large-scale sand extractions on the North Sea"

Published Deadline Location
18 Oct 30 Nov Texel

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The department of Coastal Systems (COS - location Texel) is looking for a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher with a background in oceanography or marine ecology and numerical modelling. You will work on the consequences of large-scale sand extractions from the North Sea on primary production and secondary producers, via their impact on hydrography, fine suspended sediments and biogeochemistry.
In this interdisciplinary project you will work with a PhD candidate based at the department of Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS - location Yerseke).

Job description


Sand extraction from the Rhine Region of Freshwater Influence (ROFI) area in the North Sea is expected to increase drastically for future infrastructure projects and coastal protection by sand nourishments, leading to significant changes in the coastal bathymetry. Large-scale marine sand extraction has important ecosystem effects, amongst others by changing the complex interactions between physical (e.g., currents and transport pathways, salinity, turbulence and turbidity) and biogeochemical (e.g., nutrient availability, primary production) conditions that will propagate through the whole marine food web. Within the recently awarded project 'ORELSE' (Operational Recommendations for Ecosystem-based Large-scale Sand Extraction), a Dutch consortium will give recommendations for an ecosystem-based large-scale sand-extraction approach in the Dutch North Sea.

The postdoc, embedded in the NIOZ-led work package of the ‘ORELSE’ project, will use numerical models to understand and predict how the construction of large-scale sand extraction pits in the coastal zone changes the hydrographic processes and how this affects the ecosystem and biogeochemical functioning in the coastal zone.


The post-doc project addresses the question how large-scale sand extractions modify the physical oceanography and primary and secondary production in the Rhine ROFI area of the North Sea. To do so, the postdoc will develop 3D hydrodynamics and coupled hydrodynamics-ecosystem models for large-scale sand-extraction areas to investigate how sand extraction in marine coastal areas will affect the pelagic food web, both during the excavation phase (increased turbidity), and after establishment of the pits, via modified currents, transport, salinity, turbulence and turbidity.

The postdoc position will cooperate with a PhD student, who will use laboratory experiments to develop improved model formulations of the influence of turbulence and turbidity on algal production, and on zooplankton feeding and growth.

In the later stages of the project, the model descriptions for zooplankton developed by the PhD-student will be used to improve the relevant ecosystem model components in the coupled models to improve the projections. For the definition of model configurations, consisting of idealized and realistic geometries configured to achieve in-depth understanding of the changes in the interacting processes, collaboration is envisaged with other project partners who will focus on changes in transport of eggs and larvae of marine organisms and effects on fish stocks.

The results will be used in a Digital Twin and Serious Game (developed by project partners) for adaptive temporal-spatial planning of ecosystem-based sand extractions to improve cross-sectoral collaboration and coordination between policymakers, the dredging industry, nature organisations, scientists and the fisheries sector in The Netherlands.

The post-doc will be based at COS (Texel), but we foresee regular visits to EDS Yerseke to facilitate the knowledge exchange with the PhD-student and supervisors.


Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)


The ideal candidate for this post-doctoral research position has a PhD in oceanography, marine sciences or a related science. The candidate has substantial experience with developing and applying numerical flow models, and affinity with sediment transport and/or marine biology/ecology. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the work, it is important that the Postdoc-candidate is open and communicative to facilitate interactions with other members of the group and the project consortium. Excellent English oral and writing skills are essential.

We strive to ensure that our staff reflect the diversity of society, including age, gender and cultural background. We therefore very much appreciate candidates who are able to increase the diversity of NIOZ.

Conditions of employment

We are offering a 3 year full-time Postdoc position. Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWOI (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes) scale 10 or 11 depending on relevant experience. Furthermore NIOZ offers a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3% of the gross annual salary, flexible work arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).

You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.



Royal NIOZ COS is located on the beautiful island of Texel in the World Heritage Wadden Sea. Texel offers sun, wind and beach, and a diverse but moderate level of facilities, including a thriving tourist industry, shops, sports facilities, primary schools and a high school. It is connected to the main land by an hourly to half-hourly ferry service, with 20 minutes crossings to Den Helder, from where trains run towards Alkmaar and Amsterdam. The Royal NIOZ is situated next to the ferry terminal.


Department of Coastal Systems

Understanding how various levels of ecological organisation respond to environmental change through studies on eco-evolutionary patterns and processes in the coastal zone

Working at exceptionally large spatiotemporal scales, the NIOZ is unique in that its expertise spans almost the complete trophic pyramid: from primary producers (algae) to secondary producers (shellfish, worms, snails), and predators (birds, mammals, fish) at subsequent trophic levels. This ecological expertise is complemented by the in-depth knowledge at NIOZ of the local and global physical properties and processes of coastal systems.


  • Postdoc; Research, development, innovation
  • Natural sciences; Engineering
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • AT NIOZ 20221018 Postdoc EDS/COS


Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

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Landsdiep 4, 1797 SZ, Texel

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