Postdoctoral researcher to work on predictive modelling of land subsidence and its impacts in the Netherlands (1.0 FTE)

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Postdoctoral researcher to work on predictive modelling of land subsidence and its impacts in the Netherlands (1.0 FTE)

Job description Within the framework of the joint NWA-ORC-program Living on Soft Soils: Subsidence & Society project of Utrecht University, Delft University of Technology, Wageningen University and Research, Deltares, TNO Geological Survey of the Netherlands, and Wageningen Environmental Research we are seeking a motivated postdoctoral researcher (3 years, 1,0 fte) to work on predictive modelling of land subsidence and its impacts under different management, economic and climate scenarios.
NWA-ORC-program Living on Soft Soils: Subsidence & Society (NWA-LOSS)
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 program 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 program is to develop an integrative approach to achieve feasible, legitimate and sustainable solutions for managing the negative societal effects of land subsidence, connecting fundamental research on subsidence processes to socio-economic impact of subsidence and to governance and legal framework design.
The program consists of 4 scientific work packages (WP):
  • WP1: Measuring and monitoring of land subsidence
  • WP2: Land subsidence mechanisms and associated greenhouse gas emissions
  • WP3: Impact analysis of land subsidence
  • WP4: Measures and governance approaches to cope with land subsidence
This program is funded by the national science foundation (NWO) and contributes to the Dutch Research Agenda – Research along routes by consortia (NWA-ORC) aiming to stimulate research and innovation focused on the NWA routes, designed and implemented by interdisciplinary consortia spanning the entire knowledge chain, in which relevant social partners (Deltares, TNO-GSN, NAM, Tauw BV, Sweco, Municipality of Gouda, Platform of Soft Soil Municipalities, Provinces of Utrecht and Zuid-Holland, WDOD, HDSR, STOWA, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom relations, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and Wageningen Environmental Research) are also represented.
It is the task of the postdoc to 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 the four WPs. As such, the position is central to the NWA-LOSS program and its outputs. This requires setting up and stewarding a computation infrastructure (in close collaboration with Deltares, WEnR and TNO-GSN) and filling it with a library of actual datasets (incl. metadata), scenario assumptions, and model scripts. Intensive cooperation with PhD candidates and research staff of the NWA-LOSS consortium partners is foreseen. 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) at high resolution (grid-cell footprints 25x25 m), considers the variable substrate down to 30 meters in great detail, and considers seasonal variations (i.e. temperature and precipitation time series, human management (i.e. polder water levels, agricultural practice). It 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 Global Change Geomorphology group (dr. Stouthamer, dr. Cohen, dr. Erkens), Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University in close collaboration with Wageningen University and Research, Delft University of Technology and Deltares Research Institute.
Various national and international networks supporting land subsidence science exist of which the postdoc researcher will be part. Interaction is foreseen with all fellow researchers of the Living on Soft Soils program; within UU, TU Delft, WUR, WEnR, TNO – Geological Survey of The Netherlands, Deltares Research Institute.


We seek an enthusiastic postdoc candidate, holding a PhD degree (at the start of the contract) that ensures appropriate background knowledge in numerical modelling, spatial data management, geo-ICT, big data, data-assimilation techniques, spatiotemporal data analysis and statistical analyses. Experience with programming techniques in working with large spatial datasets and system administration (besides that of the numerical modelling at hand) is required.
The candidate has a general background in Engineering, Information Technology, Earth Sciences, Physics, or Mathematics. You approach data scientific problems with determination and you are eager to develop multidisciplinary skills. We seek candidates that have the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, with excellent organisational and communication skills. The successful candidate has excellent writing and verbal communication skills in Dutch and English and is a fast learner with a broad interest and open mind.

Offer You will be offered a temporary position as a Postdoctoral Researcher (1.0 FTE), initially for a period of 12 months. Upon good performance, the contract will be extended for another 24 months (three years in total). The gross starting salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €3,270 and €3,548 (scale 10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement 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). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.
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 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.

Additional information

More information about this position can be obtained from Dr Esther Stouthamer ( ) or Dr Gilles Erkens ( ).

Apply To apply you can click on the button below. Please attach your motivation letter, a statement of your research interests, curriculum vitae, and the names and email addresses of two referees.
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The application deadline is 06/12/2021
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