Postdoc position on ice sheet modelling (1.0 FTE)

Updated: about 1 month ago

Postdoc position on ice sheet modelling (1.0 FTE)

Job description

Ice sheets respond very slowly to changes in the climate system. As a consequence, we need models for ice sheets that can run over long periods of time. During these periods, the sizes of the ice sheets vary from thousands of kilometres in diameter to nearly zero, but the critical processes occur only along the margin of the ice sheets. Accurately modelling these processes requires a high spatial resolution, but the changes in ice sheet geometry imply that the place where one needs this high resolution changes over time. For this reason, we started the development of a highly flexible model based on an irregular triangular grid, with a high resolution where needed (e.g., the grounding line, ice core locations), and low resolution where this is allowed. This model will be used to study geological periods warmer than present-day, and ultimately in the future projections aiming to estimate sea-level rise.
As our successful candidate, you will continue the development of this new ice sheet model. You will collaborate with other IMAU Researchers to improve the model’s representation of different physical interactions between the ice sheets, ocean, climate, and the solid Earth. You will also collaborate with the eScience Centre to improve the computational performance of the model, opening up ways for unprecedented large-scale applications. Lastly, you will use the model to investigate ice sheet evolution during the Middle Miocene and the Mid-Pleistocene Transition: two periods in Earth’s geological past where our understanding of the world’s ice sheets and climate needs to be improved.
We aim to start the project on the 1st of September. This position is funded by NWO.


Our ideal candidate is driven, positive and collaborative and has:

  • an MSc in physics, geophysics, oceanography, meteorology, or a related discipline;
  • a PhD in glaciology, fluid dynamics, or a related discipline;
  • strong programming skills (Fortran/C++, Matlab/Python);
  • affinity and proven experience with numerical model development;
  • good reporting and presentation skills;
  • excellent level of written and spoken English; 
  • the ability to work independently, to critically assess their own results and to cooperate within a wider research team.
To excel in this role, you have an affinity with modelling of glaciological processes.
  • a position for 3 years;
  • an inspiring, open-minded and open research group;
  • a job with national and international collaboration;
  • research on a challenging topic with great societal relevance;
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from €3,353 to €4,402 (scale 10) per month of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao);
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.
More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here .

About the organization

The Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) offers a unique research and teaching environment, in which the fundamentals of the climate system are studied. Research is organized in five themes: Atmospheric Dynamics, Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry, Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics, Ice and Climate, and Oceans and Climate. In 2017, IMAU research quality and impact were qualified as 'world leading' by an international visitation committee. Currently, IMAU employs 15 faculty members and 10 support staff, and some 20 Postdocs and 20 PhD candidates.
The Ice and Climate group at IMAU is an inspiring, high-quality, and versatile research group focusing on ice sheets, sea level, and climate. The group is world-leading in modelling ice sheets. Currently, our research group has 5 staff members, 10 Postdocs, and 8 PhD candidates. For this project, we encourage and provide financial support for visits to conferences, workshops, and summer schools, and national and international exchange visits are promoted.
At the Faculty of Science , there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each one of them is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information
  • The selection will be exclusively based on qualification without regard to gender, religion or national origin.
  • Disabled applicants with comparable qualifications will be given preference.
  • Candidates should have the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact Roderik van de Wal , via or Tijn Berends , via .
Do you have a question about the application procedure? Send an email to .


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the 'Apply now' button!
Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae including a publication list;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references;
  • the abstract of your PhD thesis.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.
Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 15/05/2021
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