PhD position in climate-vegetation modelling and Arctic migratory bird behaviour

University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Closing date: 25 October 2020

The Arctic climate is changing faster than other parts of the world owing mainly to regional feedbacks, which may modulate the local-scale response relevant for birds. Within this project, we will identify, quantify and study the mechanisms behind changes in regional climate variability (including migration routes) relevant for (future) bird behaviour (migration routing, breeding sites, range changes, food availability). We will do so on the basis of the most recent and accurate state-of-the-art global climate models (e.g. Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 6, CMIP6). Where needed, these global models will be downscaled to the required regions/sites. We will additionally address how climate change alters the dynamics of food availability for Arctic migratory geese and shorebirds.

Within this project, the PhD candidate will a) identify and quantify mechanisms behind future changes in Arctic climate variability and extremes for bird-relevant climate variables such as temperature, precipitation, and snow cover, at Arctic breeding grounds and along migration routes, from a multi-model collection of model simulations (CMIP6, period 1980-2100, historical and scenario runs); b) perform statistical and/or dynamical downscaling of climate model data for specific time periods (current, near-future, far-future) required to assess bird behaviour down to local/daily scales; c) perform dedicated climate simulations with the state-of-the-art global climate model EC-Earth to elucidate Arctic climate changes, including variability and extremes; d) examine historical and future migration corridors based on optimal weather conditions for bird migration; e) simulate the future dynamics of food availability for birds in Eurasian Arctic locations under contrasting climate change scenarios. To achieve these goals, we will employ a range of climate models and analyses techniques, as well as an existing Arctic tundra vegetation model.


  • a highly motivated, practically skilful candidate
  • a candidate with a MSc degree in climate, physics or a related subject and a strong interest in meteorology and climatology
  • a candidate with a background in numerical (climate) modelling
  • a candidate with experience and proven skills in processing/analysing large datasets (this will be considered an asset)
  • a candidate with affinity for ecological issues
  • a candidate with strong verbal and written communication skills (in English), as well as the ability to work independently and in a (diverse) team.

Conditions of employment

  • a salary of € 2,395 in the first year to a maximum of € 3,061 gross per month in the final year (PhD salary scale), based on a full-time position
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income,
  • an 8.3% year-end bonus.

The position is for four years, starting on 1 January 2021 (or soon thereafter). First you will be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate whether a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School Science and Engineering of the Faculty. The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources:


Do you meet qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

  • a cover letter with background and motivation to apply for this position (max 1 page)
  • a curriculum vitae, including details of bachelor and master degrees, list of work experience as well as other skills and a publication list, if applicable
  • a detailed (max 1 page) description of previous research experience, such as bachelor/master research projects; indicate exactly your contribution
  • contact details of 2 academic references who can provide information on your suitability for the position.

You may apply for this position until 25 October, 11.59pm 2020 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form. Interviews are scheduled to take place in the first half of November 2020.


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