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  3. PhD Position Historical Changes of Antarctic Glaciers from Photogrammetry

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PhD Position Historical Changes of Antarctic Glaciers from Photogrammetry

The Antarctic Time Machine: unveiling five decades of ice sheet changes

2 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest changing regions on our planet, and experienced a warming unparalleled anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere in the late-20th century. Several ice shelves along its margins have retreated or disintegrated, leading to rapid changes of the glaciers on its mainland. Due to its relatively small scale and complex topography, a detailed picture of the mass balance of the region was missing until the recent advent of high-resolution satellite observations. While these data revealed that the Peninsula is losing ice rapidly, a long-term perspective of the changes is still lacking.

In this project, you will unlock the potential of a vast archive of aerial photographs, obtained by the U.S. Navy since the 1940s, along ten thousands of kilometers spanning the Antarctic continent. Using the overlap between consecutive acquisitions in a Structure from Motion photogrammetry approach - combined with recent developments in high performance computing and image pattern recognition - you will derive digital elevation models of the Antarctic Peninsula, dating back more than five decades. These models will be compared to present-day elevation data, for example from satellite photogrammetry and LiDAR altimetry (ICESat-2), to obtain a detailed picture of elevation and mass changes over the past 50 years. Furthermore, regional climate models will be used to put the observed changes in a broader climatological perspective.

Your work will provide a unique insight into the long-term impact of changing climate conditions on Antarctica’s glaciers, and their dynamical response to ice shelf weakening and disintegration. Your results will provide essential validation data for ice modelling efforts, thereby contributing to reducing the uncertainties in future sea level rise scenarios.

We aim to start the project early 20201, but no later than March, 1, 2021. During the project you will be supervised by Bert Wouters and Roderik Lindenbergh at TU Delft and you will collaborate with researchers at Utrecht University and in Norway, France and USA. If the situation allows, your project will include a research visit to one of our international collaborators.

The position is located within the department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing (GRS). We seek to advance the understanding of dynamic processes on—and human interaction with—Earth, with a focus on atmospheric sciences and geodesy. The approach is based on the development of observation technology as well as the modelling of processes. Our ambition is to create an interdisciplinary research environment in which scientific staff and students explore, learn, and teach. GRS (with about 110 staff members of which 25 faculty staff) conducts a research programme in the disciplines of geodesy, remote sensing, data science, earth-oriented space research, and climate and atmospheric sciences. It focuses on the interrelation between new observational techniques and applications in engineering and geosciences, including the development of space-borne, airborne, and ground-based methods and models. The department has an internationally leading role in research related to 2D and 3D surveying, geodesy, satellite remote sensing, natural hazards, geodynamics and climate studies. Please check the website here.



  • MSc in Geodesy, Photogrammetry, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Vision or related fields;
  • Strong programming skills;
  • Experience in development of data processing algorithms;
  • Good reporting and presentation skills;
  • Excellent level of written and spoken English (for non-native English speakers: TOEFL-score > 100 or IELTS > 7);
  • Ability to work independently and to critically assess own results;


  • Affinity with photogrammetry and/or remote sensing of ice sheets and glaciers;
  • A solid backgroud and interest in glaciology
  • Experience in machine learning, image pattern recognition and handling large data sets and parallel computing, high performance computing or cloud computing;


TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr.ir. Bert Wouters, Assistant Professor and PI for this project, email: bert.wouters@tudelft.nl.