Two PhD-positions in Integrated Groundwater and Surface water Modelling as part of the AquaConnect program (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 21 May 2021

Are you looking for a PhD position where stakeholder interaction dynamics and teamwork are the keys to success? Do you have an interest in Integrated Groundwater and Surface Water Modelling, including the impacts of groundwater salinity on freshwater availability? We have vacancies for two PhDs in the new AquaConnect programme. Will you join our team?

AquaConnect is a large NWO-funded research programme with 13 PhD’s and 4 Postdocs supported by about 40 stakeholders that aims to develop innovative solutions for making water supply resilient against future droughts. Collaboration among Researchers and with stakeholders is an important part of the job. We aim to start with AquaConnect on September 1st, 2021. AquaConnect offers you the opportunity to obtain your PhD in advanced hydrogeology, to work with others and to contribute to a sustainable society.

About AquaConnect
The Dutch delta faces significant challenges in freshwater provision for industry, agriculture, nature and domestic water during increasingly frequent severe droughts and salinization due to climate change (and the associated sea-level rise). This requires a major overhaul towards a water system that stores precipitation surplus instead of discharging it to the sea and towards use of alternative water sources, such as waste water treatment plant effluents, surface water (e.g. rain) water collected from residential areas and brackish (ground)water. AquaConnect is instrumental in this transition by developing:

  • chemical technologies, enabling the use of domestic/industrial effluents and brackish (ground)water;
  • digital technologies to design smart grid infrastructures to connect supply, demand, and nature based storage;
  • tools to manage related societal changes;
  • and demonstrations in four utilization cases and international twinning.
  • AquaConnect scientific research will be performed in the following work packages: 

    • digital technologies to identify new (ground)water resources and assess the impact of its extraction on the environment;
    • risk-assessment of cyclic water systems that include nature-based treatment and storage;
    • chemical and physical technologies for fit-for-purpose water, brine and sludge supply;
    • freshwater provision governance;
    • the digital smart water-grid.

    The scientific research in all work packages will be performed in close collaboration with a work-package focused on the application of the scientific results in four demonstration areas in the Netherlands. As a PhD candidate in AquaConnect, you will collaborate intensively with other (PhD) Researchers and end-users from various companies and institutes to translate your scientific results into tangible pilot-application and demonstration in these Dutch demonstration areas. More details about the programme can be found


    What will you be doing?
    You will be part of a wide and dynamic consortium with significant social and environmental impacts. Your work will be beneficial to finding sustainable adaptations to the consequences of climate change.

    As our PhD1 (Regional-scale integrated modelling and water self-sufficiency) you will focus your research on the following:

    • setup high-resolution and scalable Integrated Groundwater and Surface Water Models including salinity groundwater for several (mainly Dutch) case studies;
    • develop scenarios of water demand and water availability under future climate and socio-economic changes;
    • run sensitivity runs to derive fast models of reduced complexity to model the coupled hydrological-water provision system;
    • test the effectiveness of various aquifer storage-recovery and recycling methods in reaching regional water self-sufficiency.

    As our PhD2 (Managing fresh groundwater resources using data-model integration) you will focus your research on the following:

    • set up a scalable hyper-resolution variable-density groundwater flow and coupled salt transport model framework around a drinking water pumping facility of a water company;
    • design and set up a monitoring scheme using in-situ and proximal sensing geophysics methods for 3D monitoring of groundwater salinity;
    • set up a model-data-assimilation framework to integrate model simulations and geophysical observations for optimal prediction of fresh groundwater dynamics and model-predictive control of groundwater extraction;
    • develop a toolbox based on the above that can be used at other water company sites.

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