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PhD position in Physical Geography: Modelling mangrove - wave interaction of the dynamic coast of Suriname

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences has a PhD position available in Physical Geography: Modelling mangrove - wave interaction of the dynamic coast of Suriname. Are you interested? Then please read the full profile and apply.

11 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


The Department of Physical Geography seeks a PhD candidate for the project ‘Mangroves and Mud (MangoMud): Monitoring and Modelling Coastal Dynamics in Suriname to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change’.

The project is part of NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development programmes and the project contributes to the UU Focus area Sustainability.

Global change will have a large environmental impact on the Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) around the world. The Netherlands made a commitment at the Paris 2015 Climate Conference to start programs for research and capacity building in collaboration with the LMIC. Suriname is one of these countries. The coastal region of Suriname is low-lying, flat and vulnerable to sea-level rise and changes in storm characteristics. The coastal area is essential for agriculture, for fresh drinking water from the sandy sediments and for human settlements. Mangrove forests protect the coast but are under threat. The large influx of sediment from the Amazon results in complex processes of migrating mud banks along the Suriname coast. When these mud banks are not present, the coast is prone to erosion but when the mud banks are in front of the coast they create windows of opportunities for mangroves. Mangroves not only protect the coast but also form habitats for flora and fauna. Anthropogenic activities such as mangrove removal, sand mining and channel dredging, result in ecosystem degradation.

The project aims at improving our understanding of the complex ecosystem of the Suriname coast, to create knowledge and awareness of global change processes and to help mitigating negative effects. Two PhDs, one appointed at Utrecht University (UU), one at the Anton the Kom University in Suriname (AdeKUS) and various NGOs, will closely work together to achieve these objectives.

The UU PhD project will focus on
1) analysing time series of satellite images to monitor mangrove development and coastal dynamics (using Google Earth Engine) and
2) on developing an ecomorphodynamic model simulating decadal to centennial morphological change and accounts for the effects of mangrove trees on hydrosedimentary conditions (rising water, sediment trapping etc).
The new model will be based on an existing mangrove growth model and a wave attenuation and damping model allowing to simulate mangrove and morphological evolution in transects perpendicular to the coast. The newly developed model will be used to run several climate change scenarios over 50 to 100 years, comprising two to three mud bank cycles, sea level rise, reduced sediment transport, increased wave energy and variation in the trade winds. The time-series of remote sensing images will be used to study mangrove dynamics of the coast and will be used to qualitatively test and drive the model.

The UU and AdeKUS PhD-candidates will closely collaborate with experts and stakeholders of WWF, Conservation International, Wetlands International and the UN Development Program, and contribute to workshops on this topic in Suriname.


We seek a candidate with a strong motivation for scientific research, international collaboration, keen interest in translating scientific findings to practical applications, in the fields of coastal processes, mangrove forests, modelling and earth observation. Affinity with working in Low and Middle Income Countries and with NGOs is a pro.

You preferably have:

  • a MSc degree in Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Marine Sciences, Biology or a closely related discipline;
  • has knowledge of coastal processes, and (mangrove) vegetation;
  • has experience in spatio-dynamic modelling, remote sensing, GIS and computer simulations;
  • is able to work across different disciplines of coastal processes, biology, ecology, hydrology, geography, nature conservation and process modelling;
  • is willing to work with NGOs and the University in Suriname;
  • has excellent scientific writing, presentation and planning skills;
  • is an enthusiastic team player;
  • is able to place their results in the broader and interdisciplinary context of the NWO WOTRO Sustainability Development Goals;
  • is able to communicate the main research results to (professional) end users.

You are expected to be fluent in English, both spoken and written. If you do not speak or understand Dutch, you are expected to be able to communicate in Dutch at a professional level within two years of the appointment.


You will be offered a full-time PhD position at Utrecht University, at first for one year. Depending on a satisfactory performance this will be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The evaluation will take place approximately after nine months.

Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The salary starts with € 2,222 gross per month in the first year and increases to € 2,840 gross per month in the fourth year at fulltime appointment (38 hours per week). The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. We offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions. You'll find more information about working at Utrecht University here.
Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus, which is located only fifteen minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht.

Additional information

Would you like more information about this position? Then please contact Prof S.M. de jong s.m.dejong@uu.nl or Prof B.G. Ruessink (b.g.ruessink@uu.nl ) or Dr Barend van Maanen b.vanmaanen@uu.nl.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, colleagues from various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With 3480 students (BSc and MSc) and 726 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organized in four departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences and Human Geography & Urban & Regional Planning.

The Department of Physical Geography conducts research and teaching and is responsible for the BSc and MSc programme Earth Sciences. Within the department of Physical Geography, the research groups carry out top-quality fundamental research that focuses on natural hazards, natural and human-induced morphodynamics and sedimentary processes, patterns and products in coastal, fluvial and terrestrial environments, and their response to global change. Next, the department has expertise in the spatio-dynamic, integrated modelling of soil water-vegetation dynamics, earth observation, geostatistics, data-assimilation methods and global scale hydrological modelling in the context of global change.