PhD: Assessing climate risk and adaptation for real estate investments

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Are you  interested in how climate risk from natural hazards will affect real estate investments and urban planning in the Dutch Delta? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

Climate change will exacerbate the risk from extreme wind storms, hail events and other natural hazards, with increasing losses for buildings and infrastructure and impacts on real estate investments. The low lying delta of the Netherlands is particularly vulnerable with its proximity to rivers and sea, and the high value of assets situated in one of most density populated countries in Europe. Given these challenges, The Netherlands must re-design new urban areas and retrofit its existing real estate to cope with these trends. In addition, urban planning and development is further challenged by a continuous pressure from population growth and housing demand, and important choices have to be made where and how to build urban areas in a “climate proof” way to enable sustainable living in the Dutch Delta.

This PhD research is part of the  Red&Blue project (Real Estate Development and Building in Low Urban Environments (RED&BLUE). This project will address these challenges in a unique joint cooperation between multiple Dutch universities (TU Delft, VU Amsterdam, etc. ) and societal partners such as City of Amsterdam, PGGM, APG and Bouwinvest. The proposed PhD research has a central position in the project to provide the project with state of the art risk information of current and future wind and hail storm risks, how this affects urban areas, communities and investments, and what adaptation options are available to reduce risks.

You will start with producing risk hazards information for the Netherlands, showing risks for wind- and hail storms for current and future situations. This includes analysing data of historic climate information and analysing future projections from climate models. These data will be obtained from the KNMI and other European weather services such as ECMWF. Statistical analyses and time series analysis will be conducted to analyse these data to assess what kind of extremes can be expected in the future. Next, the research will use this information to assess how these future extremes will impact assets (buildings, infrastructure) and communities, by combining the physical hazards data with data on the vulnerability of assets (building types, locations, etc) and people (what adaptation measures can communities take to lower risk?). This then results in estimates of future losses to real estate with and without adaptation. Special attention will be paid to analysing whether extreme hail and wind events can occur simultaneously or in consecutive order.

We need (1) a candidate who has programming, data processing and statistical skills, and (2) can work in a multi-disciplinary environment, and work together with other researchers of different backgrounds. The final PhD thesis will be composed of four peer reviewed scientific papers describing the current and future risks, and effect of adaptation measures.

Your duties

  • analyse historic data on wind and hail storms and describe the occurrence of extreme events.
  • analyse future projections of climate extremes and apply statistical analyses to compare the change in extremes between the current and future situation.
  • assess the vulnerability of assets (buildings) and communities by collecting additional data on buildings types but also on socio economic characteristics of communities (demographics, income, etc). These data will reveal how vulnerable urban areas and their communities are for extremes.
  • explore what adaptation options can reduce the risk from climate extremes on real estate investments

  • a Master’s degree in Economy/Econometrics, hydrology, environmental sciences, engineering, applied mathematics, or a related field.
  • strong quantitative skills in statistics and programming (Python / R)
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger team of researchers from other disciplines involved in international research projects

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2.443 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (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 one year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of three 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 personalised benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the institute and department
Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM is part of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( ).
The position falls within the department of Water and Climate Risk. This department studies hydrological- and climate processes, and how these processes lead to risks and opportunities for society, the economy, and the environment. A defining characteristic of the department is a multi-disciplinary approach that combines expertise from natural sciences with knowledge from the fields of economics, e-Science and geography. This approach has led to a unique research portfolio of water and climate risk projects, and the department is a global leading institute in flood and drought risk assessment, and risk management research.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your motivation letter, curriculum vitae, and the names and contact details of two references (we will only contact these for candidates selected for an interview) by

19 June 2022


Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

Name: Prof. J.C.J.H. Aerts or Dr T. Haer
Position: Project Leader
E-mail: or

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