PhD Position AdaptCoast: Adaptive Coastal Monitoring and Modelling of Intermittent Anthropogenic and Natural Impacts on Beach-Dune Systems

PhD Position AdaptCoast: Adaptive Coastal Monitoring and Modelling of Intermittent Anthropogenic and Natural Impacts on Beach-Dune Systems

Published Deadline Location
11 May 15 Jun Delft

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Job description

Beach-dune systems respond to anthropogenic, ecological and geomorphological processes. and are affected by sea level rise and urban development. These complex natural and anthropogenic processes happen together and are therefore difficult to assess because of multi-scale interactions in space and time. Managing such coastal systems requires both insight in the processes and reliable prediction tools. 

Main knowledge challenges are improved understanding of how, first, erosive and restorative short-term processes, and second, anthropogenic interventions, such as bulldozing, might influence decadal beach-dune system development. New emerging measuring and modelling tools are needed as aeolian and human dynamics interactions are interwoven and event driven, where standard technology struggles. 

The research is part of the AdaptCoast (Adaptive Coastal monitoring and modelling of intermittent anthropogenic and natural impacts on beach-dune systems) project, funded by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO). The project aims to develop new adaptive monitoring, analysis and predictions tools to better understand the individual and combined effects of human activities and natural dynamics on long term shoreward sand transport and dune development. AdaptCoast consists of two PhD projects, one based at TU Delft developing nowcasting techniques for nowcasting the natural processes and human activities, another one based at Twente with focus on scaling up detected human-natural interactions in time to assess long term morphological impacts. In support to these research activities, a postdoc at TU Delft will focus on developing a novel adaptive measuring system to monitor event driven intermittent natural dynamics and human activities. There will be a close collaboration between the two leading universities, as well as with (inter)national partners.   

Your duties: 

  • Extract change dynamics from 3D beach topography data acquired user laser scanning and photogrammetry 
  • Identify and group spatio-temporal patterns of beach topography trends, extracted from both camera and laser scan observations. 
  • Understand natural (atmospheric, oceanographic, and bio-geomorphological) and anthropogenic variables and agents driving beach-dune dynamics using causal discovery and complex networks theory. 
  • Develop a machine learning architecture for nowcasting beach-dune surface change dynamics. 
  • Implement the nowcasting architecture in the adaptive monitoring infrastructure and workflow. 
  • Present your work at international conferences and publish your results in peer-reviewed journals.   


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • MSc degree in Civil or Environmental Engineering, Applied Earth Sciences, Remote Sensing,  Climate sciences, Computer Sciences, or related discipline.
  • Affinity with coastal  fieldwork.
  • Excellent ability to think conceptually and quantitatively.
  • Experience with big data processing, statistical analysis, machine learning, numerical modelling and visualisation.
  • Programming skills, for example in Python, R or C++.
  • Excellent ability to communicate in English, both orally and in writing.
  • Good organisational skills and ability to work independently in a multidisciplinary team of researchers.
  • You are willing to acquire your drone license and fly drones for the project and to support related education

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03909


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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