PhD Fellow in Physical modelling of EM-scattering and SAR-imaging

Deadline: 31.08.2022

Employer UiT The Arctic University of Norway

UiT is a multi-campus research university in Norway and the northernmost university of the world. Our central location in the High North, our broad and diverse research and study portfolio, and our interdisciplinary qualities make us uniquely suited to meet the challenges of the future. At UiT you can explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

Credibility, academic freedom, closeness, creativity and commitment shall be hallmarks of the relationship between our employees, between our employees and our students and between UiT and our partners.

Faculty of Science and Technology

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

UiT The Arctic University of Norway with its main campus located in Tromsø is the northernmost university in the world. Its focus on climate and environment is clearly dictated by the geographical location at the edge of the Arctic. The main task of the Faculty of Science and Technology is to conduct research and teaching at high national and international level. Prioritized research areas include energy, climate, environment, maritime, marine, nano-, space- and information technology; addressing both general topics and topics relevant for the High North.

The position

The Department of Physics and Technology announces a vacant PhD fellow position in the area of Physical modelling of EM-scattering and SAR-imaging. The position is affiliated with the Department of Physics and Technology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tromsø - The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) and the research will be conducted in the Centre for Integrated Remote Sensing and Forecasting for Arctic Operations (CIRFA).

The position is for a period of four years. The nominal length of the PhD programme is three years. The fourth year is distributed as 25 % each year and will consist of teaching and other duties. The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position.

This position will be associated with the Earth Observation group at the Department of Physics and Technology. This group consists of five permanent academic staffs and several postdoctoral and PhD fellows.

The successful candidate will work at CIRFA. CIRFA conducts research on integrated remote sensing for Arctic operations by developing data analysis methods and technologies for reliably characterizing and monitoring the physical environment of the Arctic. The Centre also explores methods to efficiently assimilate the derived information into models to perform improved predictions of sea ice state, meteorological and oceanographic conditions. The announced project is associated with work packages 1 and 2, which conduct research on remote sensing of the ocean surface and sea ice.

The workplace is at UiT in Tromsø. You must be able to start in the position within a reasonable time after receiving the offer.

The position’s field of research

The availability and wide coverage of the ESA Sentinel satellites makes them of great interest for operational users and automatic processing. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor on Sentinel-1 can reliably measure the Earth's surface through cloud cover and in darkness, and is ideal for polar regions. CIRFA's sea ice mapping algorithms have taken advantage of a novel incidence angle modelling approach that still has potential for further improvement and extension to new tasks. To achieve this, the proposed project aims to gain a better understanding of the underlying physics of radar backscattering from the ocean and sea ice surfaces and to improve the model for the incidence angle behaviour. Both theoretical and empirical approaches will be explored and validated against our large collection of Arctic validation data collected from expeditions like the recent CIRFA cruise. Once the model relationships have been validated, the algorithms can be tested and extended to various applied remote sensing applications.


For further information about the position, please contact:

Roles and responsibilities of the Research Fellow

The PhD Fellow will be building upon work from work packages 1 and 2 in CIRFA (i.e. ocean and sea ice remote sensing), and extending the incidence angle modelling to new domains.

The research should include:

  • Exploring theoretical scattering models and geophysical model functions to extract incidence angle characteristics.
  • Exploring real data for empirical incidence angle characteristics and validation of models.
  • Modifying the SAR statistical modelling with improved incidence angle relationships.
  • Considering polarimetric matrix and textural extensions of the modelling.
  • Applying and extending SAR mapping tools for ocean, sea ice and other marine, and possibly terrestrial, applications.


This position requires a master’s degree or equivalent in physics, mathematics/statistics, or electrical engineering. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply.

The suitable candidate must have:

  • Experience with SAR remote sensing,
  • Background in signal and image processing
  • Good skills in programming and English language

A strong background in physics and/or experience with numerical analysis would be an advantage, likewise any previous experience related to ocean, sea ice or Sentinel-1 remote sensing.

Other desired skills include:

  • Independence and self-motivation
  • Creativity and ability to think outside the box
  • Excellent work ethics and commitment to the job

International experience is an advantage. Emphasis is also given to personal suitability.

As many as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.

Admission to the PhD programme

For employment in the PhD position, you must be qualified for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Science and Technology and participate in organized doctoral studies within the employment period.

Admission normally requires:

  • A bachelor's degree of 180 ECTS and a master's degree of 120 ECTS, or an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 30 ECTS for a master's degree of 120 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 20 ECTS for an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.

In order to gain admission to the programme, the applicant must have a grade point average of C or better for the master’s degree and for relevant subjects of the bachelor’s degree. A more detailed description of admission requirements can be found here.

Applicants with a foreign education will be subjected to an evaluation of whether the educational background is equal to Norwegian higher education, following national guidelines from NOKUT. Depending on which country the education is from, one or two additional years of university education may be required to fulfil admission requirements, e.g. a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 2-year master's degree.

If you are employed in the position, you will be provisionally admitted to the PhD programme. Application for final admission must be submitted no later than two months after taking up the position.

Inclusion and diversity

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is working actively to promote equality, gender balance and diversity among employees and students, and to create an inclusive and safe working environment. We believe that inclusion and diversity are a strength and we want employees with different competencies, professional experience, life experience and perspectives.

If you have a disability, a gap in your CV or immigrant background, we encourage you to tick the box for this in your application. If there are qualified applicants, we invite at least one in each group for an interview. If you get the job, we will adapt the working conditions if you need it. Apart from selecting the right candidates, we will only use the information for anonymous statistics.

We offer

We offer an interesting project within a highly innovative centre environment, opportunities to travel and meet other leading scientists within the field, independence in work, a fantastic work environment with nice colleagues, good remuneration, and a cozy hometown of Tromsø surrounded by the stunning landscape of Northern Scandinavia.

More practical information for working and living in Norway can be found here.


Your application must include:

  • Application and motivation letter (max 1 page)
  • CV (max 2 pages)
  • Diploma for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Transcript of grades/academic record for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Explanation of the grading system for foreign education (Diploma Supplement if available)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • Three referee contacts, preferably including the master thesis supervisor
  • Up to five Academic works (publications). Must include the master thesis.

Qualification with a master degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your Master degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution concerning completion of your master studies. You must have completed your degree before October 1, 2022.

All documentation to be considered must be in a Scandinavian language or English. Diplomas and transcripts must also be submitted in the original language, if not in English or Scandinavian. We only accept applications and documentation sent via Jobbnorge within the application deadline.

Terms of employment

Remuneration of PhD Candidate positions are in salary code 1017, and normally starts at salary grade 54 on the pay scale for Norwegian state employees corresponding to approximatly 30 000 NOK/month after taxes. There is a 2 % deduction for contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund. In addition, UiT pays 12 % directly to the Pension Fund on top of the salary.

You have to be qualified for and participate in our PhD study program. As many as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training; thus, if you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position

General information

The appointment is made in accordance with State regulations and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants.

A shorter period of appointment may be decided when the PhD Fellow has already completed parts of their research training programme or when the appointment is based on a previous qualifying position PhD Fellow, research assistant, or the like in such a way that the total time used for research training amounts to three years.

Remuneration for the position of PhD Fellow is in accordance with the State salary scale code 1017. A compulsory contribution of 2 % to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund will be deducted.

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act (Offentleglova). According to the Personal Data Act information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication, if you have requested non-disclosure.

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