PhD Position in Remote Sensing and Modelling of Polar Clouds

PhD Position in Remote Sensing and Modelling of Polar Clouds

Published Deadline Location
7 Feb 28 Feb Utrecht
We are looking for a PhD candidate who will use the latest satellite observations to improve polar clouds in a leading regional climate model. Apply now!

Job description

Are you a researcher aspiring to obtain a PhD degree and interested in working with satellite data and climate models? Then this might be a great job opportunity for you!

Your job
The European Space Agency (ESA) is set to launch the new satellite EarthCare in May 2024. EarthCARE is expected to provide cloud observations in unprecedented detail. So far, cloud observations have been either precise but ground based, or from satellites but with limited precision. EarthCARE combines the best of both worlds. In this project, we will use the EarthCARE observations to investigate polar clouds, in particularly those over Greenland, and subsequently use these observations to improve the state-of-the-art polar regional atmospheric climate model RACMO.

Why is this a relevant PhD project?
Clouds significantly impact the climate and surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Clouds generally limit ice melt over the dark margins of the ice sheet, as they shield the surface from direct sunlight. However, on the higher-elevated parts of the ice sheet, clouds generally enhance snow melt as the longwave cloud radiative effect exceeds the reduction in sunlight. Furthermore, due to the low concentration of aerosols over the ice sheet, liquid water persists much longer in clouds than elsewhere, enhancing longwave radiation emission. All in all, a correct representation of clouds is critical for an accurate estimate of the contemporary and future surface mass loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and consequently of future sea level rise.

Why is this an attractive PhD project?
RACMO is one of the globally leading models in assessing the surface mass balance of ice sheets. Model results of RACMO are used widely in the polar science community, meaning that your work will have considerable impact. You will be among the first to work with EarthCARE data once it has been successfully launched. Our research team at Utrecht University and KNMI includes key researchers within the EarthCARE and RACMO projects ensuring effective guidance on data handling and interpretation. Lastly, all our EarthCARE products will be open source, facilitating collaboration with existing and potentially new international partners.

You will start the project with writing code for a fast and seamless on flight track comparison of EarthCARE observations with climate model data. This code will be published as open source, supporting international collaborations. Next, you will improve the representation of clouds in our regional climate model RACMO using the first year of EarthCARE data, in combination with existing observations. In the second half of the project, you will use the expanding set of EarthCARE observations to assess and publish the first accurate cloud climatology over Greenland and how clouds impact the surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice sheet.

This challenging research position requires developing a good understanding of climate modelling and remote sensing. You will work with experts from both fields to become an expert in the remote sensing of clouds, their model representation, and the polar climate. For 15% of your time, you are expected to assist in the teaching at the Department of Physics of Utrecht University.

Specifications

Utrecht University

Requirements

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate with a passion for climate and coding. Besides that:
  • You hold a MSc degree in (geo/astro)physics, Earth sciences, engineering, or mathematics.
  • You have a keen interest to unravel physical atmospheric processes.
  • You possess strong coding skills, reflected by the ability to write new code and to understand existing code.
  • You ideally have (some) experience with (regional) climate models, high performance computing and/or remote sensing data analysis.
  • You can work independently as well as within a team and with external collaborators.
  • Excellent English writing and speaking skills are required for this position.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for four years;
  • a working week of 36 hours and a gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.

Employer

Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Shaping science, sharing tomorrow.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

The Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) offers a unique research and teaching environment, in which the fundamentals of the climate system are studied. Research is organised in five themes: Atmospheric Dynamics, Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry, Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics, Ice and Climate and Oceans and Climate. In 2022, IMAU research quality and impact were qualified as 'world leading' by an international visitation committee. Currently, IMAU employs 18 faculty members and 10 support staff and some 20 Postdocs and 30 PhD candidates, and offers a friendly, open and international atmosphere.

The Ice and Climate group at IMAU is an inspiring, high-quality and versatile research group focusing on ice sheets, sea level, and climate. The group is world-leading in modelling of the ice sheet surface including firn, and maintains a dedicated network of automatic weather stations. Currently, our research group has 5 staff members, 7 Postdocs and 7 PhD candidates. Within this team, 2 postdocs work currently fulltime with RACMO. For this project, we encourage and provide financial support for visits to conferences, workshops and summer schools, and we promote national and international exchange visits.

Additional information

If you have any questions that you’d like us to answer, please contact Willem Jan van de Berg at w.j.vandeberg@uu.nl.

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to science.recruitment@uu.nl.

Are you an international applicant? Our International Service Desk can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff.

Specifications

  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3603

Employer

Location

Princetonplein 5, 3584CC, Utrecht

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Application procedure

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation, via the ‘apply now’ button.

Application procedure

Application procedure

As Utrecht University, we want to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation, via the ‘apply now’ button.

Make sure to apply no later than 28 Feb 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).