Postdoctoral Research Associate in Climate Analysis

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Edinburgh, SCOTLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 21 Jun 2017

1. Job Details

Job title: Post-doctoral Research Associate in climate analysis

School/Support Department: School of GeoSciences

Line manager: Prof. Gabriele Hegerl

2. Job Purpose

The successful candidate will derive constraints on decadal climate variability and future climate change by analysing observed records and historical climate model simulations in the CMIP5 climate model archive, and use new simulations as they become available.

A particular focus are the separation of interdecadal climate variability and forced response in multiple climate variables; and constraints on future global increase in precipitation, and its spatial patterns, from observed precipitation changes.

3. Main Responsibilities (Approx. % of time)

  • Review existing literature on decadal variability and its mechanisms in the 20th century and keep on top of new results arising within and outside the projects (10%)

  • Analyze decadal climate variability in observations; climate models and new simulations done in Edinburgh to determine fingerprint of decadal variability and evaluate model performance in decadal variability both in terms of amplitude and mechanisms (30%)

  • Determine diagnostics to separate forced and unforced variability based on control simulations; e.g. for Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (30%)

  • Contribute to research group meetings, comment on group findings and discuss results (10%)

  • Write up results and publish in scientific literature, and contribute to publication by other team members and collaborate where appropriate (15%)

  • Disseminate results at scientific meetings outside of the group (5%)

  • 4. Planning and Organising

    The post holder will have to agree a general plan of research with the Principal Investigator and progress will be monitored at pre-scheduled meetings.

    5. Problem Solving

    The problems to be faced are purely scientific and the post holder will supply the detailed expertise for delivering a solution, in close collaboration and under instruction by and with advice from the Principal Investigator and other academic and senior research staff.

    6. Decision Making

    The post holder will determine the specific techniques and approaches to be used in the course of the research, in agreement with the principal investigator and consulting project partners where appropriate.

    7. Key Contacts/Relationships

    The postholder will principally interact with the Principal Investigator and other project staff and students, and with discussions/input from project partners during meetings. More generally, the postholder will discuss the work, and other questions of scientific interest, with other members of the School. The postholder will be expected to represent the University externally, by presenting their work at specialist meeting or workshops in the relevant research area. They may also be required to provide advice and support to relevant students.

    8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job


    • Ph. D. in Geoscience, preferentially in climate research; either already obtained or close to obtaining; or Ph. D. in physics, mathematics or statistics with suitable applied experience.
    • First or masters degree in relevant specialisation (meteorology, climate, geosciences), or mathematics / statistics / physics with some relevant experience
    • Quantitative analysis skills; computing experience e.g. matlab, IDL, python.
    • Ability to work closely in a team on joint publications, and communicate research progress
    • Ability to ask scientific questions, and write up and publish scientific results.
    • Experience in analysing large-scale climate data
    • Willingness to contribute to publications and project reports


    • Successful experience in publishing scientific results, i.e. publication record.
    • Experience in analysing climate data from models or observations; particularly, an understanding of the role of dynamics and external drivers on climate variability and change.
    • Understanding of mechanisms of climate variability in ocean and atmosphere
    • Experience in applying statistical methods; and in quantitative analysis methods more generally

    Essential Skills:

    • Track-record in working in a team
    • Track record in writing reports (desirable is a track record of publications)
    • Good communication and presentation skills.

    9. Dimensions

    There are no line management responsibilities associated with the post.

    10. Job Context and any other relevant information

    The post arises from multiple funding, including ERC advanced grant ‘Transition Into the Antropocene’ (TITAN; Feb 2013-Jan 2018) and a NERC consortium grant Securing Multidisciplinary UndeRstanding and Prediction of Hiatus and Surge events (SMURPHs, to 11/2019). The TITAN project aims at determining the causes of climate change over the instrumental record, with particular emphasis on the period prior to 1950, while the SMURPHs project aims at understanding the causes of variations in global warming rate and their implication for estimating transient and equilibrium sensitivity of climate. This post focuses on deriving constraints on future warming and climate change from changes already observed.

    The successful candidate will derive and update constraints on future warming rate from observed warming attributed to greenhouse gas increases and more general, human influences, and constraints on future global increase in precipitation, and its spatial patterns, from observed precipitation changes.

    Questions asked include: How much of variations in decadal rates of warming over the past 150 to 200 years was due to variability generated within the climate system, and how much was due to forcing? How reliable are climate model estimates of decadal climate variability? How much does rainfall change in response to global temperature changes and with decadal climate variability? How strongly is the Arctic sea ice linked to warming over time?

    Application Procedure

    All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page via our Vacancy Website and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

    We anticipate interviews will be held in the week commencing 26th June 2017. You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

    The closing date is 5pm GMT on 21 June 2017.

    Eligibility to Work

    In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

    To do so, the University of Edinburgh requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

    For further information on eligibility to work please visit our eligibility to work website

    If you are not currently eligible to work in the UK, the University has the authority to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa) in accordance with current UK Visas and Immigration rules.

    For applicants interested in sponsorship information is available on our Working in the UK website

    However, if you have previously been sponsored by an employer within the UK but your leave has expired or lapsed and you are no longer in the UK, according to Home Office Visa Immigration rules you cannot apply for sponsorship under any category of Tier 2 for a period of 12 months after the date your visa expired and/or you left the UK.

    If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts and come from outside the EEA, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa.

    The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route offers a greater flexibility in your employment compared to other UK immigration routes, meaning you can, for example, move organisation, location and/or job role. By contrast with, a Tier 2 visa where you are ‘tied to a UK sponsor’. Tier 1 provides greater flexibility in undertaking additional engagements, such as collaborations and is intended as a route to settlement. Allowed absences from the UK are up to 180 days per year without losing the eligibility to qualify for settlement, with no restriction on the reason for absence (unlike Tier 2, where any absences from the UK must be for a purpose consistent with the person’s employment or economic activity, including paid annual leave, or for serious or compelling personal reasons).

    You would initially need to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK).

    Tier1 (Exceptional and Exceptional Promise) Endorsement Criteria

    Once successfully endorsed, you are able to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. More information on this entry route is available at UKVI Website .

    Conditions of Employment

    Pension Scheme

    This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

    For further information please visit our Pensions website .


    The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £32,004 to £38,183 for 35 hours, each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

    The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.

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