PhD position in aerosol research

PhD position in aerosol research

Published Deadline Location
22 Jan 21 Mar Leiden

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Are you an ambitious and highly motivated student with a strong interest in aerosol and climate science 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 be to create a global satellite climatology of aerosol water uptake, to validate this product and to use it to evaluate and improve Earth system models and reanalysis products. You will make use of satellite observations, in situ observations, climate models and data assimilation techniques. The NASA PACE mission (launch January 2024) with the SPEXone instrument onboard 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 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
How efficient aerosols take up water, i.e., their hygroscopicity, is a fundamental, but poorly quantified property that is very important for the impact of aerosol on meteorology, climate and health. Aerosol hygroscopicity affects aerosol evolution, their interaction with sunlight, and how effective they can act as cloud condensation nuclei. Little reliable information is available on aerosol hygroscopicity to constrain climate and chemistry models, contributing substantially to the uncertainty in air quality assessments and climate predictions. Your project is to validate, use and expand a recently developed method to infer information of aerosol water content and hygroscopicity using multi-angle polarimeters, such as SPEXone and POLDER. First, the products will be validated with a wide range of reference data sources, after which global data will be derived from satellite data and analyzed. Available outputs of many major climate models are then validated with this data. Finally, aerosol emissions and hygroscopicity assumptions in one selected model will be optimized using data assimilation and an improved estimate of the climate impact of anthropogenic aerosol emissions will be made. The global satellite climatology of aerosol water uptake derived in this project will be unique and expected to make an important impact to climate and air quality models and their results.




Position requirements
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 remote sensing and/or climate modeling and knowledge on aerosol microphysics and optics would be an asset. Good English language skills (speaking and writing) and the ability to both work in a team and independently are essential.

Conditions of employment

What we offer
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
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2781—€3562 per month
  • University graduate
  • 2145


Niels Bohrweg 4, 2333 CA, Leiden

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