PhD position in hydrology in the project "Extreme Floods in Switzerland"

University of Zurich

Zürich, Switzerland 🇨🇭

Rare to extremely rare floods with return periods of 1 000 years and more can cause extensive damage and need to be considered in assessing flood risk and hazard. The project „extreme floods in Switzerland” aims at estimating such floods with the help of a hydrometeorological modelling chain for all of Switzerland. To this end, a weather generator, a bucket-type hydrological model and a hydrological routing system are coupled to produce realisations of hourly, continuous discharge simulations with a length of several 100 000 years for a large number of sites.

The PhD project will explore the uncertainties involved in this flood estimation approach through several targeted sensitivity studies. While the focus will be on flood hydrology and simulations with the hydrological model HBV, alternative hydrological models will be tested, and different parameterizations for the weather generator will be evaluated. The corresponding analyses will span across the three links of the modelling chain and focus on a number of test catchments of small, intermediate and large size.

Applicants should have a MSc degree in hydrology, meteorology, climatology, environmental sciences, environmental engineering or a closely related field. Familiarity with hydrological modelling and an affinity to programming and data-crunching are decisive assets since the project involves preparing and running extensive simulations, as well as evaluating, visualizing and interpreting their results. We encourage applications from dedicated individuals with good oral and written communication skills in English who enjoy working in a team. Knowledge of German is not compulsory but considered as an additional asset.

The Department of Geography offers an interdisciplinary, international work environment and a formal PhD program ( The Unit Hydrology & Climate has strong expertise in hydrological modeling and flood hydrology. The salary is competitive and fixed according to the salary scale of the Swiss National Science Foundation[1].

Applications should include a cover letter, a CV, relevant diploma, an example of your own scientific writing (if available) and the names and contact details of two to three potential references. Evaluation of applications will start 21 October 2021 and continue until the position is filled.

For questions, please contact PD Dr. Daniel Viviroli ([email protected]) or Prof. Dr. Jan Seibert ([email protected]).