PhD Candidate within Ocean Modeling and Marine Plastic Transport

Updated: 21 days ago
Deadline: 01 Jan 2022

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About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate in the Marine Civil Engineering Group at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The appointment has a duration of 3 years, or 4 years (including 1 year teaching duties). The appointment is financed by NTNU through its call for interdisciplinary research collaboration in sustainability.

The position is a part of the MAPLE project (Marine Plastic Pollution: Environmental impact and life cycle scenarios). MAPLE is an interdisciplinary research project between researchers from the Department of Energy and Process Engineering, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Department of Geography and the Department of Biology and contains four PhD positions.

One of the biggest issues for marine ecosystems is the battle against plastic pollution and its effects. Plastic is a very diverse material that can be found floating on the surface, suspended in water columns and on the seafloor. It effects very different biological communities at these different locations in the water column.

To solve the plastic crisis in the oceans, we need to understand how and where plastic is distributed, what impact microbial communities have on the degree of degradation and sedimentation of plastic particles, and what alternative options exist to minimize the use and mismanagement of plastic.

MAPLE focuses on marine plastic pollution and its environmental impacts in Trondheimsfjorden and the outer coast of central Norway. We combine field studies, laboratory studies and computer modelling in an interdisciplinary approach to understand this complex problem.


The activities in this PhD project will result in a numerical model cascade capable of predicting the transport and accumulation of plastic debris, including microplastics, along with their transport pathways from source to sink. Expected transport pathways for microplastics in this case being from their primary (wastewater treatment effluent, surface runoff) or secondary (river, ocean currents and gyres) source, to their sink (offshore or coastal sediments). The research will focus on typical microplastic transport pathways from river to sea. This includes outfall from sources, mixing, turbulent interactions, stratification, breakdown and deposition while ensuring key details regarding the behavior of plastic debris are accounted for in the simulations. The investigations will focus on identification of pathways and repositories of marine plastic waste. The numerical modeling is based on the open-source hydrodynamics framework REEF3D, developed at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Advanced high-performance numerical algorithms are combined with state-of-the-art supercomputer infrastructure to represent the ocean and the marine transport processes on the relevant scales. Interdisciplinary collaboration within the MAPLE project and the Marine Civil Engineering group are envisaged.

The position reports to the head of department Prof. Vikas Thakur. The main supervisor of the PhD position will be Prof. Hans Bihs.


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