PhD research fellow position in Space physics

Deadline: 01.08.2021


UNIS is the world's northernmost educational institution, located in Longyearbyen. UNIS has technical and scientific equipment, laboratories and infrastructure well suited for teaching and research in Arctic natural science and technology for sea, land and atmosphere.

The disciplines include Arctic Biology, - Geophysics, - Geology and - Technology. All courses are taught in English, and about half of the staff and students are from abroad. UNIS is a state-owned corporation. The administrative language is Norwegian.


Longyearbyen is located on Svalbard, in the midst of a varied and beautiful Arctic nature with good opportunities for outdoor activities. Longyearbyen is a modern town with approx. 2200 inhabitants and has a good service offering including kindergartens, swimming / sports hall and a varied association, sports and cultural life.


The department of Geophysics at UNIS is seeking candidates for a full time, 4 year position as a PhD candidate in Space Physics. Currently the department constitutes 4 professors, 4 associate professors, 5 post-doctoral research fellows, 4 PhD students, 10 Adjunct Professors (10 and 20% positions) and 2 head-engineers.

The research within the department focuses on Space Physics and Air-Cryosphere-Sea Interactions. The announced position is within the Space Physics group.

Description of the vacant position

The vacant position will be part of the Space Physics group within the Geophysics Department at UNIS. The Space Physics Group is part of a Norwegian Centre of Excellence, the Birkeland Centre for Space Science. The space physics group now seeks a PhD candidate to work within ionospheric – magnetospheric physics. The candidate is expected to be a part of the Birkeland Centre of Space Science and to take an active part in the appropriate research topics connected to the Dynamics of the Asymmetric Geospace group at the centre.

The Space Physics Group at UNIS owns and operates two world class research facilities. The Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO) is an optical observatory for middle and upper atmospheric studies. The Svalbard SuperDARN radar is part of a global network of radars used primarily to study global plasma convection in the ionosphere. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to capitalize and potentially expand on these unique facilities. The candidate is expected to contribute to the operation of the Kjell Henriksen Observatory and is expected to have knowledge of ground-based observations and physics of the upper atmosphere.

The project will focus on quantifying and characterizing ionospheric energy deposition rates through small – scale (10 – 100 km) structures such as ULF (Ultra Low Frequency) waves. Such temporally varying, small scale structures are often overlooked when considering the global energy budget. However, spacecraft observations have suggested that the local energy dissipation rate for such structures should be greater than that observed under more static conditions. The project will thus aim to provide energy deposition 4-D (altitude, latitude, longitude, time) surveys, as well investigate the relative contributions towards different energy deposition mechanisms (i.e. joule heating, frictional heating, auroral particle acceleration).

Qualifications and personal qualities

  • Applicants for the position must hold a MSc degree in an appropriate field (space physics or upper atmospheric physics).
  • Candidates must satisfy the enrolment requirements for the PhD program at the University of Bergen.
  • Good knowledge of physical processes in the ionosphere and magnetosphere as well as good skills in programming are required.
  • Applicants must be proficient in both written and spoken English.
  • Due to field sites located outside of Longyearbyen, holding a valid driving license will be an advantage.
  • Field work experience as well as earlier experience from Svalbard and/or other polar areas will be an advantage.
  • Authorship or co-authorship of scientific publications is an advantage.
  • Motivation and personal suitability will be emphasized.

Employment conditions

The duration of the PhD position is 4 years, of which 25 per cent of the time each year comprises required duties associated with teaching, research, fieldwork operations and dissemination of results. The employment potentially includes some supervision duties of Master students.

The candidate must satisfy the enrolment requirements for the doctoral degree program at the Univ. of Bergen. A plan for the implementation of the research training must be approved by the faculty. The candidate is expected to complete relevant courses as part of the formal PhD training.

All salaries are set in accordance with the Norwegian government's University salary scale. PhD fellow research fellows start at a gross salary of NOK 481 800,- annually. The salaries are depending on experience/seniority. As a resident in Svalbard an annual allowance of NOK 34 560 (Svalbardtillegg) will be added to the salary. A Social Security contribution of 2 per cent, to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, will be deducted from the salary. Income tax on Svalbard is 8 per cent, plus 8,2 per cent toward National Insurance coverage. UNIS offers a membership in the Norwegian Public Pension Fund.


Inquiries about this position may be directed to:

Please apply online on www.jobbnorge.no.

Please include the following documents to the online application form:

  • A brief account of the applicant's research interests and motivation for applying the position, together with a statement of personal and scientific interest in pursuing a Ph.D. degree,
  • A short research proposal (max 1 page) that outlines the research area, including research questions, research methods and hypothesized results.
  • The names and contact information for two or more referees. One of these should be the main advisor for the master's thesis or equivalent thesis.
  • CV (including a complete overview of education, professional training and professional work).
  • Transcripts and diplomas showing completion of the bachelor's and master's degrees, or official confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • Relevant certificates/academic references.
  • A list of any works of a scientific nature (publication list).
  • Any peer review publications in your name.

The application and appendices with certified translations into English or a Scandinavian language must be uploaded at Jobbnorge.

Selection and appointment

A committee will evaluate the qualifications of the applicants, and invite the highest ranked person(s) for an interview. The appointment will be made by the Director of UNIS based on the recommendation from the committee.

You can request to have your application kept from public access cf. the open files act § 25. The request must be explained. UNIS will determine if the application will be kept from public access or not, based on the explanation and the regulations from the open files act. If the application will not be accepted, the candidate will be contacted.

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