Postdoctoral Researcher on Predictive Land Subsidence Modelling and its Impacts in The Netherlands (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

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Postdoctoral Researcher on Predictive Land Subsidence Modelling and its Impacts in The Netherlands (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Job description
We are seeking a motivated and enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher to work on predictive modelling of land subsidence and its impacts under different management, economic and climate scenarios. Modelling results will be used to develop action perspectives to mitigate land subsidence and its negative impacts.
This position is within the framework of the joint NWA-ORC-programme (NWA=Dutch Research Agenda, ORC=Research Along Routes by Consortia) ‘Living on Soft Soils: Subsidence & Society’ project of Utrecht University, Delft University of Technology, Wageningen University and Research, Deltares Research Institute, TNO Geological Survey of the Netherlands, and Wageningen Environmental Research.
In The Netherlands land subsidence is a continuously ongoing process due to:
  • drainage of peatlands and areas reclaimed from the sea;
  • expansion of built-up areas; and
  • the infrastructural network on soft soil, salt mining and gas extraction.
An increasing number of people and economic assets are exposed to subsidence and damage costs are soaring. Moreover it gives rise to serious safety issues due to increased flood risks and in case of subsidence as a result of peat oxidation – causes considerable greenhouse gas emissions which will further contribute to climate change. In some areas tipping points have already been reached, where current land use can no longer be maintained without considerable costs, underlining the urgency to take action. The threat of land subsidence, the knowledge hiatus on process-interplays causing it, and lacking mid- to long-term coping strategies, ask for an integrated research programme that addresses the issue of land subsidence in a holistic way, whereby insights about physical-chemical-biological system functioning, the societal impact evaluation and implementation of measures as well as an assessment of their governance and legal implications co-evolve. The overall aim of this programme is to develop an integrative approach to achieve feasible, legitimate and sustainable solutions for managing the negative societal effects of land subsidence in The Netherlands, connecting fundamental research on subsidence processes to socio-economic impact of subsidence and to governance and legal framework design.
The 6-year programme is now entering its third year and integration of the output of our five work packages is on its way, in which you, as a postdoc, have a central role. Currently, 11 PhD students and 3 postdocs are working on measuring techniques, process understanding, impacts, measures, governance approaches and the legislative framework. Currently, within the framework of this project we are also recruiting a postdoctoral researcher (3 years, 0.8-1.0 FTE). That postdoc will work on the translation of measures to mitigate land subsidence and its negative impacts into model scenarios and inputs and to make scenarios, model outputs and underlying datasets and -products (e.g. maps) accessible for different groups of knowledge-users (See: Postdoctoral Researcher on Scenario Development for Modelling Land Subsidence Mitigation Measures in The Netherlands ). Close collaboration with this postdoc researcher is foreseen.
As a postdoc you implement a spatial numerical modelling system to perform scenario-based forecasting of land subsidence and its associated damage. The modelling will take in data products, physical process-understanding and component model formulations, damage calculation systematics (e.g. buildings, infrastructure, agricultural produce), and policy scenario’s (e.g. business as usual, regional measures, local measures) as developed across work packages 1 (Measuring and monitoring), 2 (Mechanisms), 3 (Impact), and 4 (Measures).
As such, the position is key to the NWA-LOSS programme and its outputs. You will participate in setting up a computation infrastructure for the modelling (in close collaboration with Deltares, WENR and TNO-GSN). You will steward the filling of it with a library of actual datasets (incl. metadata), scenario assumptions, and model scripts. Outputs are an operational modelling environment, forecast output digital data, open-access scientific publications, explanatory reports to stakeholders, and web portal content.
NWA-LOSS forecasts:
  • are to have national coverage (about 1/3 of the country is subsidence prone and includes both built-up and agricultural area) at high resolution (foreseen at grid-cell footprints of 25x25 m);
  • consider the variable substrate down to 30 meters in great detail, and seasonal variations (i.e. temperature and precipitation time series, human management (i.e. polder water levels, agricultural practice).
  • trains and updates its forecasting models on subsidence as monitored over the past few years with satellite data and ground-based techniques, something that the integrative modelling may also adopt (data assimilation).
This project will be executed in the Delta Evolution and Subsurface Processes group (prof. dr. Stouthamer, dr. Erkens) and Global Change Geomorphology group (dr. Cohen), Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University in close collaboration with Wageningen University and Research, Delft University of Technology, Deltares Research Institute, TNO – Geological Survey of
The Netherlands and WENR. Intensive cooperation with PhD candidates and research staff of the NWA-LOSS consortium partners is foreseen. Various national and international networks supporting land subsidence science exist of which the postdoc researcher will be part.

We believe in a balance between individual and collective achievements. That’s why we assess both on individual and team performance. We stimulate inclusive leadership at all levels and we encourage to share the results of scientific research with society so that collectively we get more done. Therefore, we seek an enthusiastic postdoc candidate who:
  • holds a PhD degree (at the start of the contract) that ensures appropriate background knowledge in numerical modelling, spatial data management, spatiotemporal data analysis and/or statistical analyses;
  • has experience with programming techniques in working with large spatial datasets and system administration (besides that of the numerical modelling at hand);
  • has a general background in Engineering, Information Technology, Earth Sciences, Physics, or Mathematics;
  • is a team player but also has the ability to work independently;
  • is sensitive to the fact that successful and impactful research is a team effort
  • has excellent writing and verbal communication skills in Dutch and English
  • is a fast learner with a broad interest and open mind.

We offer a temporary position (0.8 - 1.0 FTE) for one year in an international working environment. After positive evaluation, there is a possibility of extension to a maximum total of 3 years. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €3,413 and €3,703 (scale 10.3 - 10.5 according to the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.
In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions , including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University .

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University , the 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 studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development. The faculty is located at Utrecht Science Park in the Vening Meinesz Building A near the historical city centre of Utrecht.
The Department of Physical Geography conducts research and teaching and is responsible for the BSc and MSc programmes 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.

Additional information
For more information about this position, please contact Prof Esther Stouthamer (Director of the research focus area Future Deltas) via or Dr Gilles Erkens (Researcher project LOSS Living on Soft Soils ) via .
Are you an international applicant? Our International Service Desk can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff and guests .

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the 'apply' button. Please also attach the names and e-mail addresses of two referees.
Job interviews will be held on 23 February 2023.

The application deadline is
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