PhD scholarship in modelling of extreme rainfall

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Denmark 🇩🇰

Cloudbursts are expected to increase in frequency and intensity in the coming years, leading to increases in urban pluvial flooding. However, the understanding of spatial and temporal properties of such extreme rainfall events is still incomplete. The PhD scholar will be an important part of a team of researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) that explores different types of rainfall observations and output from climate models using statistical and machine learning methods. The position is an integral part of the National Centre for Climate Research (NCKF) at DMI as well as the research group on Urban Water at DTU. Both groups have been active in the field of understanding properties of precipitation for decades and have good experiences with collaborating on e.g. joint PhDs. The position must be filled in 2021.

Responsibilities and qualifications
Measuring precipitation is surprisingly difficult, and to complicate matters further, the properties of extreme rainfall are quite different from more frequent, moderate rainfall. The main data types to be analyzed and compared are

  • Point rainfall in a variety of temporal resolutions from rain gauges
  • High-resolution weather radar
  • Very-high-resolution numerical climate models.

The purpose of the PhD study is to explore these data types in order to improve understanding of statistical properties of extreme precipitation and its geographical distribution. The key method is expected to be a selection of statistical models and machine learning algorithms. Hence, the following qualifications will be taken into account when assessing candidates:

  • Strong theoretical background and hands-on experience in statistics or machine learning is required
  • Relevant programming experience is required
  • Communication skills in English, both in writing and oral presentation
  • Experience with scientific writing is an advantage
  • An open-minded approach to working in multidisciplinary and multinational teams is expected

The successful candidate will have an office space at both DMI and DTU and is expected to spend substantial time at both institutions. Time will be allocated for teaching or other mandatory work, as well as for participating in relevant education.

You must have a two-year master’s degree (120 ECTS points) in hydrology, statistics or machine learning or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master’s degree.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of the candidates will be made by scientific staff at both DMI and DTU Environment.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
Starting date is in December 2021 and you will be employed at DTU. The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Karsten Arnbjerg-Nielsen, [email protected].

You can read more about the Department of Environmental Engineering at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 5 October 2021 (Danish time).

First round of interiews are expected to be held in week 41.

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online”, fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master’s degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

National Centre for Climate Research at DMI
DMI is scientific advisor for the Danish government on climate change. With National Centre for Climate Research, we support an effective green transition and climate adaptation efforts in the Kingdom of Denmark, and strive to put Denmark in an international leading position in climate research. NCKF research focuses on key areas within climate science, gathers knowledge and links climate research in the Kingdom of Denmark through interdisciplinary research collaborations. 

Technology for people at DTU
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.