PhD position: Effects of nature-based SALTISolutions on estuarine ecosystem engineering

PhD position: Effects of nature-based SALTISolutions on estuarine ecosystem engineering

Published Deadline Location
22 Oct 18 Nov Enschede

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Job description

Sea level rise, drought, subsidence, and dredging of waterways can exacerbate the intrusion of seawater in deltas and estuaries, affecting fresh water availability and nature. Within the large NWO-funded research programme SALTISolutions, we aim to gain insight in the mechanisms of salt water intrusion, and to investigate potential measures to mitigate the effects of salinity intrusion, including nature-based solutions.

In this PhD project, which will be an integral part of SALTISolutions, you will study the potential effects of such nature-based solutions on other estuarine services, such as habitat provision (and biodiversity) and safety from flooding, on top of the ability of these measures to mitigate salinity intrusion. The focus is on so-called “ecosystem engineering species” i.e., organisms, such as wetland plants and bivalves, that modify their abiotic environment via their physical structures or activity. You will study the effects of nature-based salinity intrusion measures on the estuarine scale, via  the interplay between salinity, hydrodynamics, sediment transport, morphodynamics and ecosystem engineering activity. The main focus will be on contrasting traits of ecosystem engineering species (e.g. dense versus sparse vegetation and smooth versus rough shellfish reefs). You will adopt a combination of numerical hydrodynamic modelling, satellite remote sensing, statistical modelling and available data from field surveys. You will present the results at conferences and write your findings in journal papers and a PhD thesis.

The PhD-project is a collaboration between the Marine and Fluvial Systems (MFS) group at the Department of Civil Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering Technology, and the Department of Water Resources (WRS) of the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente. You will be supervised by a joint team from these two groups.


University of Twente (UT)


  • MSc in Civil Engineering and/or Earth Observation or an equivalent programme
  • Experience with quantitative satellite remote sensing/earth observation and image processing and/or experience with numerical flow models (e.g. Delft3D or equivalent)
  • Proficiency in data analysis, mathematical/numerical/programming skills and statistical modelling (e.g. in Matlab, Python, R)
  • Knowledge of coastal/estuarine systems
  • Good organizational skills, enthusiastic, independent and problem-solving attitude
  • Willing to contribute to UT’s teaching program and to supervise graduate students
  • Excellent communication/writing skills, and keen to interact with users and fellow PhD-students and postdocs
  • Good command of the English language ( IELTS >= 6.5 or equivalent).

Conditions of employment

  • Four year full-time PhD position, with a qualifier in 6-9 months.
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits.
  • Tailor-made educational program of at least 6 months (30EC), including visits to conferences
  • The salary ranges from EUR 2.395,- per month (1st year) to EUR 3.061,- (4th year), plus holiday allowance (8%) and end-of-year bonus (8.3%).
  • You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Enschede. A relocation allowance or temporary housing allowance may be part of the offer.


This is a co-operation between the departments Marine and Fluvial Systems and Water Resources.

The chair group “Marine and Fluvial Systems” is part of the Twente Water Centre. Our mission is to do research and provide education in the areas of water systems and management. The aim is to increase our understanding of the natural processes in water systems and the socio-economic processes that affect these systems, and to develop tools that can effectively be used to support the management of rivers, river basins, seas and coastal zones.

The department of Water Resources is a multidisciplinary scientific department specialising in scientific research and education in earth observation and geo-information sciences for the understanding, monitoring, predicting and sustainable use and management of water resources.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 2020-85


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB, Enschede

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