Postdoc position in climate dynamics and earth system modelling (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 5 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 19 Jan 2022

Concerns are rising that several subsystems of the Earth may respond highly nonlinearly to future levels of anthropogenic forcing from greenhouse gas emissions. These levels are associated with tipping elements such as the Atlantic ocean circulation, leading to abrupt transitions. As tipping elements are coupled, cascades of abrupt transitions can occur and affect the whole climate system. The mechanisms leading to such cascading behavior and particularly the physical links between tipping elements are poorly understood. Tipping cascades are high impact events, which urgently need to be understood to estimate the associated societal, economic and environmental risks. This knowledge is also needed to develop emission targets minimizing risks of harmful transitions to undesired states of the Earth system in line with the Paris climate agreement. The aim of this project is to quantify the physical links between specific tipping elements and assess the likelihood of initiating tipping cascades within this century. Our team will identify positive feedbacks between tipping elements that could lower critical atmospheric CO2-levels, and quantify the expected climate response in the presence of cascading tipping behavior.

For this Postdoc position you will work on quantifying physical links between different tipping elements. You will make use of existing climate model simulations within CMIP5/6 and palaeoclimate simulations to investigate connections between e.g. the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, polar ice sheets, sea ice and tropical rainforests. Moreover, you will set up dedicated simulations within the CESM climate model framework. Within the team, you will work closely together with a PhD student to apply the physical links between tipping elements to more conceptual model studies of specific coupled tipping elements. The vacancy for the PhD position is posted simultaneously on the website of Utrecht University.

The project is funded through a NWO-Vici grant to Anna von der Heydt. You will work in a multidisciplinary team on the project objectives using numerical simulation and theory development. We will employ a full climate model hierarchy – from conceptual models to the most complex state-of-the-art climate models – to track cascading tipping behaviour. We work in collaboration with colleagues from EU-H2020 project TiPES and EU-ITN CriticalEarth , as well as the Centre for Complex Systems Studie s at Utrecht University.


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