PhD position: Constraining historical and future estimates of land cover and land management effects on climate

100%, Zurich, temporary

ETH Zurich and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission are inviting applications for PhD positions through the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme. The CDP scheme intends to enhance the science-policy link through strategic collaborations with higher education institutions characterized by research excellence and international reputation, in order to:

  • Train a new generation of doctoral graduates in science and technology with a focus on the science-policy interface, able to understand the research needs at different stages of the policy cycle, capable of providing scientific support to policy and of using transferable skills in science communication and knowledge management.
  • Co-develop, co-host and co-supervise doctoral studies between higher education institutions and the JRC.
  • Strengthen collaboration between the JRC and higher education institutions by promoting mutual enhancement of related skills and competences, combining existing knowledge and capacities, and enhancing networking in key scientific areas.

Job description

Within the CDP framework we are looking for a PhD candidate for the project: “Constraining historical and future estimates of land cover and land management effects on climate”. We offer:

  • Three-year PhD position in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.
  • The PhD research will be realized at ETH Zurich, Switzerland (approx. 1 year) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy (approx. 2 years).
  • We offer a competitive fellowship. While at the JRC in Ispra, you will get a contract as a Grant Holder 20.
  • Enrolment in the PhD programme Science and Policy at ETH Zurich hosted by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center.

Land use and land cover change (LULCC) is one of the major global environmental perturbations brought about by human activities, but there is still a lack of consensus regarding its climate impacts at various scales. New observational datasets of surface climate’s sensitivity to LULCC offer an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate climate model results and reduce their associated uncertainties. The PhD work will combine climate model simulations with observation-based products with the aim of constraining historical and future estimates of land cover/management effects on climate, with a focus on biogeophysical processes, in particular water exchanges. The newly available simulations of the Land Use Model Intercomparison Project (LUMIP)/Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), the basis for the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, will be evaluated using remote sensing products, FLUXNET and other available observations. In addition to the analysis of LUMIP/CMIP6 simulations, the Community Land Model, an advanced land surface model used in LUMIP/CMIP6, will also be used to test specific hypotheses and explore the option space for future sustainable land management.

Your profile

  • You have (or are near completion of) a Master in Climate Sciences, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography or a related field.
  • You have a strong interest in combining data science and process-based modelling to solve pressing environmental issues.
  • Experience with modelling or the spatial analysis of large-scale datasets is an asset.
  • You work proactively and independently and have good communication skills.
  • You have a very good knowledge of English, both spoken and written.
  • Relevant publications in peer review journals should be highlighted.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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The selection process is composed of two phases, that is, a first selection is made by ETH Zurich resulting in a short list of candidates and then a second selection is made by JRC. The successful candidate will be offered the grant holder contract at the start of the employment with JRC. The candidate should:

  • Have the nationality of a Member State of the EU or a country associated to the Research Framework Programs (Horizon2020).
  • Candidates from other countries may also apply providing they have a residence and work permit in Italy. If not, they will have to go through the security clearance before they can be granted the GH contract.

We look forward to receiving your online application until October 11, 2019 with the following documents: CV, transcripts of records and motivation letter. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For more information (no applications) please contact and (ETH Zurich contacts) or and (JRC contacts).

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