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  3. PhD position: How do atmospheric fluctuations stir the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation?

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PhD position: How do atmospheric fluctuations stir the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation?

This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ. The Department of Ocean Systems (OCS) at NIOZ (Texel) and the Institute …

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Landsdiep, Den Hoorn, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 uur


This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ. The Department of Ocean Systems (OCS) at NIOZ (Texel) and the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research, Utrecht University (UU) are looking for a PhD candidate with a strong interest in oceanographic measurements and modelling. The candidate should hold a master degree in climate science or a related subject. Experience with climate modelling and data analysis is a plus.

The project
The large-scale Atlantic Ocean circulation, also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is a key component of the climate system. In the upper ocean the AMOC transports warm, saline tropical waters northward. At higher latitudes these waters are transformed to dense waters, which return southward in the deep ocean. Amongst other things, the AMOC plays a role in oceanic CO2 uptake and ensures that Northern Europe has a mild climate. There are concerns that the AMOC may weaken or collapse under global warming as a result of reduced water mass transformation.
However, the AMOC also shows considerable variability at time scales of weeks to years, which is assumed to be largely driven by atmospheric forcing fluctuations (wind, heat flux, freshwater flux). If large enough, these fluctuations can potentially “kick” the AMOC out of its current strong state and into an alternate, weaker, AMOC state.
As the PhD student, you investigate how atmospheric fluctuations affect AMOC variability, particularly in the North Atlantic transformation regions. For this, you will combine two tools: in situ observations and a high-resolution ocean model. The most important observational data will be the Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program dataset (OSNAP; co-led by NIOZ). You will participate in two research cruises (summer 2022 and 2024) and contribute to curating the data.
The high resolution ocean model, POP, will be compared against the observational data and used for a suite of model experiments to investigate the impact of certain atmospheric phenomena on AMOC variability.
The project will be jointly led by dr. Femke de Jong (NIOZ), who will supervise the observational work, and dr. Claudia Wieners (UU), who will supervise the modelling experiments. As the PhD student, you will work both at NIOZ-Texel and at Utrecht University.


We are looking for a curious and driven candidate who has:

  • An MSc or equivalent in climate science or a related field, and a sound knowledge of climate physics
  • Experience with analysing climate data (observational or model output)
  • Good programming skills, ideally python or matlab. Some knowledge of Fortran may be useful as well
  • Able and willing to join fieldwork at sea for up to 6 weeks in summer
  • Good communication skills in written and spoken English
  • An inquisitive mind and eagerness to apply different research tools to an intriguing ocean science problem.

We highly encourage applicants from all members of our community and of diverse background, including LGBTIQ+ communities, to join us.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended for a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3%, flexible work arrangements and arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).
You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.

Additional information

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Femke de Jong or dr. Claudia Wieners. For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).
For more information about the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research, Utrecht, at Utrecht University, see here; for more information about the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry at NIOZ, see here.
Find more information about the UU-NIOZ projects here.
If you are interested in this position please visit our website www.workingatnioz.com and apply for this job by submitting a motivation letter with your CV and the names of three references.