Job opening: PhD position in the Doctoral Program “Mountain Climate and Environment”

The Doctoral Program “Mountain Climate and Environment” at the University of Innsbruck invites applications for the following academic position, for the duration of 3 years:

PhD Candidate

Salary: the minimum gross salary (stipulated by collective agreement) for this position amounts to € 2.229 per month (14 times). The salary will be higher if you have worked in a similar position before. Furthermore, the university has numerous attractive offers.

Reference number: GEO-11934

The successful candidate will work in the Institute of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences (ACINN, in the project “Atmospheric drivers of glacier surface mass-balance variability as resolved by high-resolution climate simulations in the Alps and High Mountain Asia”, funded by the University of Innsbruck and the Doctoral Program “Mountain Climate and Environment” (DP-MCE). The project is conducted by the principal investigators Nikolina Ban, Lindsey Nicholson and Fabien Maussion (Ice and Climate Research Group, ACINN).

Project description

Glacier change has the potential to modify regional hydrology and to trigger natural hazards. It is therefore of pressing importance to better quantify glacier mass-balance response to climate variability and change. Projections of glacier change at the regional and global scales typically employ two major simplifications: (i) that glacier melt is only temperature driven (i.e. application of “temperature index models”) and (ii) that the local change in glacier-relevant climate variables is the same as the one extracted from GCM output at coarse spatio-temporal resolution, despite their poor representation of the complex surface conditions of mountainous areas.

In this PhD project, we propose to address these two major shortcomings by utilizing existing and planned high-resolution climate simulations conducted with the COSMO climate model over the Alps and High Mountain Asia to drive a surface energy balance model (COSIPY or a simplification of it) at the glacier to catchment to regional scale, eventually coupled to a glacier evolution model (OGGM) for projections in a last step. The overarching goal of this PhD project will be to evaluate the added value of the high resolution climate simulations “from the glaciers perspective”, with the aim to improve our understanding of the drivers of glacier change.

To apply successfully, you will:
- have a Master of Science in a field of Earth science with strong mathematical/physical background, or a Master of Science in physics/mathematics/informatics with previous experience in Earth science;
- have demonstrated skills in scientific programming in a scientific programming language such as Python, R or equivalent.
- be fluent in English.

It will be advantageous if you can demonstrate:
- experience in any or multiple of the specific research areas of the research topics mentioned above;
- working experience in a supercomputing environment, and with large datasets;
- ability to work in a team;
- proficiency in German.

In addition to your PhD project you will play a coordinating role in the Doctoral Program “Mountain Climate and Environment” and have small administrative duties.

Please submit your application including a letter of motivation, CV (with copies of certificates), and contact details of two referees (e.g. your thesis advisor or a former professor) until 09.06.2021 to: (the page is available in English or German)

If you have any questions, please contact Fabien Maussion ( with the email subject line [GEO-11934].

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