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Phd Position In Climate Dynamics & Data Science

Do you want to contribute to understanding the role of climate change on extreme weather, like heat waves & drought, to better prepare society for present and future risks?  Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

2 maanden geleden


De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


Working within a large EU project, the candidate will do research leading to a PhD thesis with a focus on the role of climate change on recent extreme weather events. During the last years, many extreme weather events in Europe and worldwide have occurred, causing damage to infrastructure and casualties. This has raised the question about the role of climate change in altering the odds or the magnitude of a number of these extremes. While it is clear that climate change in general intensifies heat waves and extreme rainfall events, there are many unanswered questions with respect to the role of internal climate variability and feedback processes that are important for extremes. Moreover, to what extend climate change affects the socio-economic impacts from extremes (e.g., drought-related harvest losses or flood damage) remains largely unexplored. Recently developed methods in artificial intelligence provide enormous potential to fill this research gap.
The candidate will become part of the Climate Extremes research group (climateextremes.eu) within the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM). Together with colleagues at IVM, the Netherlands Royal Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and partners abroad, the candidate will work on applying novel machine learning methods on massive climate data sets (both from observations and climate models) to better understand the dynamical processes and feedbacks leading to extremes. This will provide essential information to quantify the respective role of climate change versus that of natural cycles on the occurrence of specific events. The candidate is expected to write peer-reviewed papers as partial fulfilment of the PhD thesis, to participate in international conferences and regular project workshops, and to assist in some limited teaching activities.

This research is part of a large EU-funded project, XAIDA (Extreme Events: Artificial Intelligence for Detection and Attribution). The work will be carried out at the IVM at VU Amsterdam, and the candidate will work in close collaboration with our consortium partners, including KNMI, Climate Informatics Group (DLR, Germany), LSCE/IPSL (Paris) and ETH (Zurich). XAIDA brings together the expertise of a research consortium of 15 universities and research institutes, uniting experts in climate modeling, machine learning and statistics. Together they will design new methods and apply them to recent high-impact events to examine links to climate change and predict if the occurrence of such events, or even more-intense ones, will increase in the future. They will foster dialogue with concerned stakeholders (e.g. insurance companies) to prepare risk assessment and adaptation for similar future events, as well as develop material for teachers, for the education of younger generations.Your duties

  • Analyzing large observational and climate model data sets
  • Applying machine learning methods (like causal discovery and interpretable AI) to these datasets to understand drivers behind heatwaves and droughts in Europe and the larger Mediterranean area
  • Writing a PhD thesis consisting of 4 scientific papers
  • Working with colleagues of the project consortium and contributing to project reporting
  • Assisting in some limited teaching activities at IVM


  • MSc degree in climate physics, earth sciences, physics, or similar (preferably with demonstrable affinity with machine learning or Big Data) or an MSc degree in computational sciences or similar (preferably with demonstrable affinity to climate sciences)
  • Good skills in programming and using large datasets (preferably in Python, or willing to learn Python). Experience with High Performance Computing (or interest in learning) is desirable
  • Familiar with or willing to learn Machine Learning techniques.
  • Strong quantitative methodological skills
  • Good communication skills, since the work involves collaboration in a larger team of international and multi-disciplinary researchers and stakeholders


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter before 30 juni 2021. The job interviews are planned for June, when possible please take them into account when applying for the position.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Dim Coumou
Position: Associate Professor Climate Extremes
E-mail: d.coumou@vu.nl
Website: www.ivm.vu.nl