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  3. PhD position UU on Firn saturation as a tipping point for ice sheet melt (1.0 FTE, 4 years)

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PhD position UU on Firn saturation as a tipping point for ice sheet melt (1.0 FTE, 4 years)

UU and NESSC are looking for a PhD candidate. Interested? Read more and apply here.

11 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 40 uur
€ 2325 - € 2325 per maand


The Netherlands Earth System Science Centre (NESSC) is currently looking to fill 13 PhD positions with excellent, talented, enthusiastic, highly motivated and goal-oriented candidates, with a no-nonsense mentality. The ideal candidates are interested in past and/or current climate research, are highly motivated to perform research in an excellent, exciting and international working environment, and are committed to a fully-funded 4-year PhD track.

The project “Firn saturation as a tipping point for ice sheet melt” will be hosted at IMAU, Utrecht Unviersity (UU). Firn, an up to 150 m thick layer of compressed snow, covers ~90% and >99% of the Greenland (GrIS) and Antarctic ice (AIS) sheets, respectively. It has been estimated that in the air pockets of the firn layer, ~45% (GrIS) and >99% (AIS) of the surface meltwater is retained and refrozen. This means that firn acts as an efficient buffer to ice sheet mass loss. However, when in a future warmer climate the melt rate increases, it is expected that at some point (a so-called tipping point), the firn layer can no longer sufficiently regenerate these air pockets in winter and becomes saturated, irreversibly losing its buffering capacity, leading to enhanced meltwater runoff, ice sheet mass loss and sea level rise. In this project we use regional climate models and firn models in combination with the latest output of global climate models from CMIP6, dynamically and statistically downscaled to high resolution over the ice sheets, to assess the current and future meltwater buffer capacity of the firn layers of the GrIS and AIS. The goal is to find melting thresholds beyond which the firn layer becomes saturated, leading to accelerated mass loss.


General requirements for applicants
• Candidates did not reside or carry out their main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the 3 years immediately prior to the date of appointment (time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account)*.
• Candidates hold an MSc degree (or will graduate before the appointment date) in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Ecology, Earth Sciences and/or Environmental Sciences.
• Candidates are in the first four years of their research careers at the start of their appointment (full-time equivalent research experience, measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
• Excellent proficiency of the English language (both oral and written).
• The ability to work both independently in challenging environments and in a multidisciplinary team. Excellent communication skills and cooperation skills are required.
• An inquisitive mind-set, accuracy, creativity and self-reliance are very important. You are required to be flexible, mobile and pro-active.
• Enthusiasm to attend the full training programme as offered in the project and to actively contribute to the project aims and objectives.
• High interest in receiving training from supervisors from different institutes, disciplines and sectors, this will require regular travelling within the Netherlands.
• High motivation to contribute to the dissemination of results and outreach to both specialists and the public at large.
• Candidates are excited to move to the Netherlands and to visit a Partner Organisations for a secondment (internship), in or outside the Netherlands, as this is part of the programme. Additional research visits to international institutes and conferences for research collaborations are expected.
• Strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree.

*If you do not qualify for the first criteria, you can still submit your application if you would like to be considered for the NON-COFUND PhD positions.

Specific requirements for this project
For this project we seek a PhD candidate with a Master’s degree in (geo)physics, meteorology, hydrology or comparable. Experienced in and/or affinity with programming and numerical model development.


The selected candidates will be offered a full-time PhD position at IMAU at Utrecht University, initially for one year. Depending on a satisfactory performance this may be extended to a maximum period of four years, with the intend to obtain a doctorate within this period. This evaluation usually takes place in the ninth month of employment.

The gross monthly salary starts at €2,325 in the first year, and ends at €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). The salary is supplemented by a guaranteed end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and a holiday allowance of 8% of your yearly salary. We offer a pension scheme (partly paid by employer), collective insurance schemes, parental leave, travel allowance (home to work and for work purposes), and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). Facilities for sports and child care are available.

Additional information

For general or practical information on the NESSC COFUND programme, please contact info@nessc.nl. For project related questions, please contact Michiel van den Broeke via M.R.vandenBroeke@uu.nl.
NESSC is a so-called Gravitation Program, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The programme is co-funded with a grant that has been awarded from the Europen Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme: the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND program, grant agreement No 847504. Please click here for general information about NESSC and here for NESSC research.