PhD Climate sciences

PhD Climate sciences

Published Deadline Location
14 Feb 1 Apr Amsterdam

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Help our team to unravel the mechanisms of centennial variability in the large-scale ocean circulation

Job description

To date, the characterization of centennial climate variability as well as our understanding of the underlying mechanisms is very limited, and efforts towards improving the representation of centennial variability in climate models are sparse. Both geological reconstructions and model simulations indicate that the large-scale ocean circulation, and more specifically the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), likely plays an important role in centennial variability. We currently lack a spatio-temporal description of centennial AMOC variability and lack a mechanistic understanding of the underlying physical mechanisms of this variability. Such an understanding is key to interpret the observed climate variations over the last centuries, to better interpret recent and ongoing changes, and to improve climate model projections by including an evidence-based representation of internal variability on all relevant time scales.

The overall aim of this NWO funded project “Mechanisms of Centennial Climate Variability“ is to develop a framework for the mechanisms of centennial AMOC variability. This will be done based on geological data, a combination of efficient and comprehensive climate models, and by using a number of advanced data analysis methods. In this project, the PhD student at the Vrije Universiteit will closely collaborate with a fellow PhD in the same project based in Utrecht University, with the supervisors at both universities (Pepijn Bakker at the VU and Henk Dijkstra at Utrecht University) and international collaborators.

Your duties:
In this specific sub-project, the candidate will
  • Perform and analyze large perturbed parameter, physics and forcing ensembles with an Earth system model of intermediate complexity (iLOVECLIM)
  • Perform proxy forward modelling of various AMOC-related proxy types (δ13C, δ18O, Pa/Th and epsilon-neodymium)
  • Use model-data comparison for falsification of the different mechanisms of centennial AMOC variability simulated by the model
  • Describe the complex spatio-temporal patterns of centennial variability in both geological data and climate model using Multi-channel Singular Spectrum analysis (MSSA) pattern analysis.
  • Writing a coherent series of articles in English, culminating in a dissertation, and publishing these articles in leading scientific journals
  • Collaborating with other PhD students and experts at both Vrije Universiteit and Utrecht University
  • Attending and presenting research at international conferences


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


We are looking for inspiring and driven candidates who have:
  • a MSc (or equivalent degree) in Climate Sciences, ocean sciences, meteorology, geosciences or related fields.
  • experience in modelling, preferably climate or ocean modelling
  • interest in comparing model results with geological data
  • affinity with more mathematical methods and approaches
  • excellent writing and communication skills.

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognising that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realise that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of € 2.770,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment
  • an employment contract of initially one year. If there is a positive evaluation and sufficient perspective, this will be extended to a total of 4 years. Your dissertation at the end of the fourth year forms the end of your employment contract.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • space for personal development
  • hybrid working enables a good work-life balance


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The Earth Science department
In the department of Earth Sciences we cover the whole breadth of Earth science topics, from processes deep in the Earth all the way up into the atmosphere; using techniques ranging from fieldwork, labwork to satellite-based observations and numerical modelling.

Faculty of Science
Researchers and students at VU Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science tackle fundamental and complex scientific problems to help pave the way for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, and from molecules to the moon: we cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. Our teaching and research have a strong experimentally technical, computational and interdisciplinary nature.

We work on new solutions guided by value-driven, interdisciplinary methodologies. We are committed to research, valorisation and training socially engaged citizens of the world who will make valuable contributions to a sustainable, healthy future.

Are you interested in joining the Faculty of Science? You will join undergraduate students, PhD candidates and researchers at the biggest sciences faculty in the Netherlands. You will combine a professional focus with a broad view of the world. We are proud of our collegial working climate, characterised by committed staff, a pragmatic attitude and engagement in the larger whole. The faculty is home to over 11,000 students enrolled in 40 study programmes. It employs over 1,600 professionals spread across 10 academic departments.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3719


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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