PhD position in aerosol-cloud-climate research

PhD position in aerosol-cloud-climate research

Published Deadline Location
24 Oct 29 Feb Leiden

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Are you an ambitious and highly motivated student with a strong interest in aerosol–cloud–climate interactions and experience in the interpretation of atmospheric (satellite) data and climate modeling? Then you are the person we are looking for.

Job description

You and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
Your work at SRON will enable a better quantification of the effective radiative forcing due to aerosol–cloud interactions. You will make use of satellite observations, climate models and data assimilation techniques. The NASA PACE mission (launch January 2024) with onboard the SPEXone instrument will play an important role. SPEXone is being developed by a Dutch consortium consisting of SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands (Airbus DS NL). The scientific lead is in the hands of SRON.

Your position and team
You will be part of the aerosol–cloud research line in the Earth Science Group (ESG) of SRON. The ESG consists of approximately 30 scientists (permanent, postdocs, PhD students) that work on the data processing and interpretation of satellite instruments as well as the definition of new instrumentation and guiding the development. About 8-10 scientists work in the aerosol-cloud research line on retrieval algorithm development, data assimilation, and quantification of aerosol radiative forcing from satellites.

Your project
Aerosol–cloud interactions (ACI) contribute most to the uncertainty in total anthropogenic forcing of the climate system. To confidently predict the future climate, it is vital to improve both observational constraints and the representation of ACI processes in climate models. We are looking for a PhD student to work on the combination of satellite observations of aerosols and clouds with the ICON-A-HAM climate model. The candidate will extend an existing aerosol data assimilation system to include also cloud droplet number concentration and will use a Perturbed Parameter Ensemble (PPE) to improve the climate model simulations. A PPE is a set of simulations created using a single model with perturbations made to physical parameters or inputs to the model (related to emissions, properties, processes). The core scientific goal is to better understand and constrain the ACI in warm, liquid clouds and the resulted forcing. The candidate will make use of advanced aerosol and cloud observations provided by the Multi-Angle Polarimeters (MAPs) on the NASA PACE satellite mission and other observations from PARASOL and MODIS. At the end of the project, the developed system will be used to create a reanalysis data set of aerosol and cloud droplet number concentration for the ACI quantification. The candidate will collaborate within a team of experts specializing in aerosol-cloud-climate modeling and observations, which offers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in data assimilation, modeling and satellite observations.




The qualified applicant should have a MSc degree in (atmospheric) physics or similar with strong foundation in programming (preferably Fortran and Python). Experience in aerosol-cloud-climate modeling and/or machine leaning and knowledge on aerosol-cloud interactions would be an asset. Good English language skills (speaking and writing) and the ability to both work in a team and independently are a no-brainer for us.

Conditions of employment

The position we offer at SRON is a full-time position in which you will be employed by NWO-I (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research Institutes) and will initially be for a period of 18 months. This will be extended to 4 years when your performance evaluation after 9 months is satisfactory. The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of NWO-I, starting at €2.781,-  in the first year and rising to €3.562,- in the fourth year of employment. Compensation for commuting expenses will be provided.

NWO has good secondary employment conditions such as:

  • An end of year bonus of 8,33% of the gross yearly salary;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross yearly salary;
  • 42 days of vacation leave a year on full-time basis;
  • An excellent pension scheme;
  • Options for (additional) personal development;
  • Excellent facilities for parental leave;
  • Ample training opportunities;
  • Possibility of flexible working hours;


SRON institute for space research

SRON's mission is to achieve breakthroughs in international scientific research from space. To this end, SRON develops groundbreaking technology and advanced space instruments. SRON promotes societal applications for space technology. We have a strong international reputation as 'excellent in space research'. The quality and societal relevance of our science is considered ‘world-leading’.

SRON is the Netherlands Institute for Space Research. Based at locations in Leiden and Groningen, SRON combines fundamental scientific research, technology innovation, and instrumentation development to enable breakthroughs in astrophysics, exoplanet research, and earth atmospheric research from space. In partnership with leading international partners and space agencies such as ESA, NASA and JAXA, SRON provides scientific and technological contributions to international space missions as well as expertise and support to the Dutch and international scientific communities.

SRON is the national base for the Netherlands participation in the ESA science program. On the national level, it works in close collaboration with the Dutch universities, other NWO institutes, and governmental agencies to pursue a cohesive agenda for space-based research.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • University graduate
  • 2115


Niels Bohrweg 4, 2333 CA, Leiden

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