Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


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PhD position on ice sheet and glacial flow modelling
Utrecht, Netherlands
Utrecht University
  • Graduate Position

The Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University, invites applications from highly-motivated candidates for a PhD position on ''Improving ice sheet and glacial flow models for reducing uncertainty in sea-level rise projections''. This project is a research collaboration between the Department of Earth Sciences 

and theInstitute for Marine and Atmospheric Research 

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(IMAU) at Utrecht University. 

Modern deformation experiments and recent microstructural observations from boreholes demonstrate that ice constitutive behaviour is sensitive to grain size. However, this parameter is typically not considered in rheological models of ice dynamics, where this is simplified to an empirical non-linear relation between stress and strain rate. As a result, ice deformation near bedrock is poorly constrained and fluctuations in deformation rate resulting from grain size differences are not represented. Currently, ice dynamics are the largest source of uncertainty in long term sea-level rise projections. The role of this PhD candidate is to improve ice sheet and glacial flow models by calibrating and implementing constitutive equations that are rooted in modern, quantitative insights into ice microphysics. The model will be used to quantify the effects of the revised flow parameters on the projected evolution of ice sheets (e.g., Greenland) and to explore implications for sea level rise. 

The position is funded by the Faculty of Geosciences and aligns with Utrecht University’s Strategic Theme “Pathways to Sustainability 

”. Funding includes research, travel, and publication expenses, to support student training. The successful candidate will be co supervised by Alissa Kotowski (Department of Earth Sciences) and Peter Kuipers Munneke (IMAU). The project team includes local and international collaborators Martyn Drury (UU, promotor), Roderik van de Wal (IMAU, promotor), Hans de Bresser (UU), Willem Jan van de Berg (IMAU), Cedric Thieulot (UU), and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen (Univ. Copenhagen). 

A personalised training programme will be set up, reflecting your training needs and career objectives. About 20% of your time will be dedicated to this training component, which includes training on the job in assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the Earth Sciences department at Utrecht University. We also expect the willingness to dedicate part of the work time to public engagement related to the project, such as public talks or writing for non-specialist audience. Training and support in public engagement is available at Utrecht University.


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