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PhD Research Fellow on the impact of tree-line expansion – A threat to hydropower resources?

Deadline: 28.02.2023

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest rated institution of research and education with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. Its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally esteemed research communities make UiO an important contributor to society.

The geosciences are the studies of the planet Earth and its comparative planetology; the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and cryosphere, the Earth's surface and its interior. The Department of Geosciences conducts research and teaching in most of the domains of geoscience; geology, geophysics, physical geography, geomatics, hydrology, meteorology and oceanography. The Department is the broadest geoscience research and education environment in Norway. The Department encompasses five sections; Meteorology and Oceanography, Geography and Hydrology, Study of sedimentary basins, Environmental geosciences and Crustal Processes. We also hosts one Centre of Excellence CEED - Centre of Earth Evolution and Dynamics.

The Department aims to contribute to the new and important UN Sustainability Development Goals, and are important contributors to IPCC (UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change).
The staff consists of 40 professors and associate professors, in addition to postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, researchers, technical- and administrative staff. The Department has more than 200 employees.

Job description

We offer a 3-year PhD Research Fellow position at the Department of Geosciences and the Center for Biogeochemistry in the Anthropocene, University of Oslo. The position will be within an interdisciplinary research project where the overall objective is to: To provide a robust estimate of how evapotranspiration (ET) and runoff will change due to advancing tree-lines caused by changes in climate and land use, and how this will affect hydropower potential.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

Starting date no later than October 1, 2023.

The fellowship period is 3 years. A fourth year may be considered with a workload of 25 % that may consist of teaching, supervision duties, and/or research assistance. This is dependent upon the qualification of the applicant and the current needs of the department.

Project description:The Center for Biogeochemistry of the Anthropocene (CBA) focuses on feedbacks between biogeochemical process and climate across the boreal biome. The water balance (WB) of the land surface depends not only on the physical climate system and characteristics of the land surface, but also on biological feedbacks and anthropogenic land use and land cover changes (LULCC).

The UN has established 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). IPCC has evaluated the potential synergies and trade-offs between the sectoral portfolio of climate change mitigation options and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (IPCC, 2018, cf. figure 4 SPM). SDG 7, Affordable and clean energy, was identified as the single SDG with the strongest synergies and with only minor unwanted trade-offs. With the need for more renewable energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security, it is important to improve our understanding of how the water resources for hydropower can be affected by climate change and land use change.

The project will combine state-of-the-art atmospheric models with advanced models for the land surface (energy exchange, hydrology, and biogeochemistry) with extensive datasets on historic land-use change, and advanced methods for measuring energy and water exchange between the terrestrial system and the atmosphere.

More about the position

In this project we will use the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) to simulate regional climate over Norway for selected recent and future time periods. This involves dynamically downscaling global reanalysis products (like ERA5) and future climate scenarios (based on the most recent Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, CMIP6) to produce high-resolution estimates of precipitation, temperature, humidity, wind, and radiation over Norway. More recently, WRF is coupled to a version of the land model CLM that has been augmented with a hillslope hydrology component, where sub-grid atmospheric forcing and lateral fluxes of water between sub-grid elements better represent the hydrological cycle in complex terrains. The project will also use CLM with the FATES module for vegetation, a cohort model of vegetation competition and coexistence describing the dynamical evolution of the vegetation.

A key element of the project is model validation using different sets of observations. These include a promising novel use of drone swarms in combination with detailed large-eddy simulations and eddy covariance flux measurements of ET and carbon exchange (NEE) across Norway. These methods and datasets are developed at the department of Geosciences, and the successful candidate will use the data and methods and take part in field campaigns.

The PhD candidate will include model development and model simulations, thus good programming skills are required. The group works closely with the main CLM developers at NCAR in Boulder (US). An extended stay (3-6 months) at NCAR during the PhD period will be encouraged.

Qualification requirements

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has a strategic ambition to be among Europe’s leading communities for research, education and innovation. Candidates for these fellowships will be selected in accordance with this, and expected to be in the upper segment of their class with respect to academic credentials.

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in climate science, hydrology or a related field
  • Foreign completed degree (M.Sc.-level) corresponding to a minimum of four years in the Norwegian educational system
  • Documented training/experience in scientific programming and modelling is a requirement

Candidates without a Master’s degree have until 30 June, 2023 to complete the final exam.

Desired qualifications:

  • Experience with using the WRF and CLM models
  • Candidates with training and experience in field and experimental work are encouraged to apply

Grade requirements:

The norm is as follows:

  • the average grade point for courses included in the Bachelor’s degree must be C or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • the average grade point for courses included in the Master’s degree must be B or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • the Master’s thesis must have the grade B or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English
  • English requirements for applicants from outside EU/EEA countries and exemptions from these may be found here

The purpose of the fellowship is research training leading to the successful completion of a PhD degree.

The fellowship requires admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The application to the PhD programme must be submitted to the department no later than two months after taking up the position. For more information see:

Personal skills

We are seeking a highly motivated, enthusiastic and hard-working candidate with the ambition to gain new insights and publish papers in leading, international journals. Applicants must show good interpersonal skills and be willing to work in close collaboration with the project PIs and other members of the project team, as well as have the ability to work independently.

We offer

  • Salary NOK 501 200 – 544 400 per annum depending on qualifications and seniority as PhD Research Fellow (position code 1017)
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement
  • Vibrant international academic environment
  • Career development programmes
  • Oslo’s family-friendly surroundings with their rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include

  • Cover letter - statement of motivation and research interests
  • CV (summarizing education, positions and academic work - scientific publications)
  • Copies of the original Bachelor and Master’s degree diploma, transcripts of records
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • List of publications and academic work that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system (please follow the link “Apply for this job”). Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University's grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English or a Scandinavian language.

Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The appointment may be shortened/given a more limited scope within the framework of the applicable guidelines on account of any previous employment in academic positions.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. Furthermore, we want employees with diverse professional expertise, life experience and perspectives.

If there are qualified applicants with disabilities, employment gaps or immigrant background, we will invite at least one applicant from each of these categories to an interview.

Contact information

For further information please contact:

Professor Terje Berntsen, phone +47 994 36 459, e-mail: t.k.berntsen@geo.uio.no

For questions regarding the recruitment system, please contact HR Adviser Ole Rustad, e-mail: ole.rustad@mn.uio.no.

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