PhD: Human-Climate Feedbacks at Different Spatial-Temporal Scales

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Would you like to empower citizens, stakeholders and decision-makers in taking climate-smart decisions that are informed by a solid scientific evidence base through developing innovative climate services? Do you enjoy interdisciplinary research in an international academic team? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Location: Amsterdam
FTE: 0,8 – 1


The PhD project will focus on exploring how adaptation actions based on climate change information can lead to different planning decisions and consequently different climate-resilience pathways achieving a zero-emission pathway by 2050. This project investigates the reciprocal effects and feedbacks between climate change, climate information and services, socio-economic behaviour and adaptation measure in the context of different multiple and consecutive hazards (e.g. floods after droughts and vice versa), with the aim to support decision-makers by demonstrating the effects of decisions on different sectors, decision pathways and lock-in conditions.

Your duties

  • developing a multi-hazard framework to characterise the competing hypotheses about the causal links and feedbacks between climate, climate services, socio-economic behaviour, and adaptation actions in different European case studies at multiple spatial-temporal scales;
  • using state-of-the-art statistical methods for analysing large spatial and temporal hazard datasets
  • developing system dynamic (open source) modelling tools for integrating socio-behavioural theories within physical-climate systems and assess the influence of adaptation actions and climate services availability in reaching a resilient future
  • writing a PhD thesis consisting of 4 scientific papers
  • working with colleagues of the project consortium and contributing to project reporting
  • attending international meetings
  • contributing to the teaching and supervising activities at VU Amsterdam


  • MSc degree in the earth, climate, or environmental sciences (or similar); or in data science (or similar) with demonstrable affinity with earth, climate, or environmental sciences
  • knowledge of or interest in natural hazards, risk management, adaptation, water recourses
  • strong interest in interdisciplinary research, combining climate and environmental sciences with social science concepts, methods and data
  • good knowledge of socio-hydrological models and analysis methods of large spatial datasets
  • good programming skills
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger multi-disciplinary team and with international partners, including with policymakers, private sector and civil society stakeholders


A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 3 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalised benefits package


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the institute
Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Geography, Environmental Policy Analysis; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM has been part of the Faculty of Science at VU Amsterdam (legal name Stichting VU).

The department of Water and Climate Risk studies hydrological- and climate processes, and how these processes lead to risks and opportunities for society, the economy, and the environment. A defining characteristic of the department is a multi-disciplinary approach that combines expertise from natural sciences with knowledge from the fields of economics, e-Science and geography. This approach has led to a unique research portfolio of water and climate risk projects, and the department is a global leading institute in flood and drought risk assessment, and risk management research.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter by 29 September 2021. The job interviews are planned for 12 October 2021, when possible please take them into account when applying for the position

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Anne van Loon
Position: Associate Professor
E-mail: [email protected]

Name: Dr Marije Schaafsma
Position: Assistant Professor
E-mail: [email protected]

Name: Dr Maurizio Mazzoleni
Position: Assistant Professor
E-mail: [email protected]

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