Postdoc position on salt intrusion in deltas (1.0 FTE)

Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job description

The SALTISolutions Project
SALTISolutions is a multi-disciplinary TTW-funded Perspective Programme, led by Professor Julie Pietrzak (TU Delft) and carried out in close collaboration with the universities of Twente, Eindhoven, Utrecht, Wageningen and NIOZ. SALTISolutions will eventually deliver the VirtualDelta, a digital twin of a real Delta, as a management and design instrument for questions related to salt intrusion in deltas worldwide. Increasing salt intrusion caused by human alterations of estuaries and deltas, increased freshwater demand and climate change threatens freshwater availability in deltas.

An integrated and optimized societal response to salt intrusion challenges demands actions at several levels. On short time scales: operational management tools based on short-term forecasts and available (‘big’) data for freshwater management. On medium time scales: evaluation of effects of infrastructural changes on salt intrusion and, using scenario models, introduction into the society-stakeholder debate.  On long time scales:  evaluation of ‘climate-proofness’ of infrastructure, policies, and mitigation measures.

SALTISolutions’ Virtual Delta brings together advanced models, data-assimilation tools, visualisation methods, stakeholder-interaction tools, and exploratory strategic analyses for delta management at different levels. Scientific challenges and expected major scientific advances include: incorporating multiscale physical processes; understanding the impact of natural eco-morphological processes on salt intrusion, as well as developing forecasting systems and advanced game approaches for stakeholder engagement and decision making. Technology suppliers and end-users are actively involved in SALTISolutions, which will lead to conceptual and operational breakthroughs in freshwater management of deltas.

Detailed task description
As the Postdoc, you will work in project 5 of SALTISolutions on projections of future salt intrusions, say up to 2100, due to climate change and human interventions. This work is divided into three tasks:

  1. provide scenarios of future local forcing conditions (e.g., sea level, temperature, tides, river discharge, wind) and their uncertainty based on downscaling of climate change projections;
  2. make projections (plus estimates of uncertainties) of future salt intrusion in specific regions over decadal time scales using coarse grained salt-intrusion models;
  3. study the effects of human interventions made during a certain period on the long-term salt intrusion to investigate whether these measures are ‘climate proof’.  

You will work closely with other members of the SALTISolutions programme to advance our understanding of how salt intrusion could be impacted by the deepening of estuaries, opening of gates and locks, nature-based solutions, and climate change. You will work at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Department of Physics at Utrecht University, and you will be supervised by Professor Henk A. Dijkstra and Professor Huib E. de Swart.


We are looking for an ambitious and driven candidate who has:

  • a PhD in physics, applied mathematics, meteorology, geosciences or a related field;
  • experience in (climate) modeling (considered an advantage);
  • knowledge of (geophysical) fluid dynamics (considered an advantage);
  • excellent skills in scientific programming and numerical/statistical analysis of simulated and observed data.


  • the opportunity to work in and with a team of leading experts;
  • a full-time position for 2 years;
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from €2,790 to € 4,402 per month (scale 10 of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organization

The Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) offers a unique research and teaching environment, in which the fundamentals of the climate system are studied. Research is organized in five themes: Atmospheric Dynamics, Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry, Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics, Ice and Climate, and Oceans and Climate. In 2017, IMAU research quality and impact were qualified as ‘world leading’ by an international visitation committee. Currently, IMAU employs 18 faculty members and 10 support staff and some 15 Postdocs and 29 PhD students and offers a friendly, open, and international atmosphere.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information

  • The selection will be exclusively based on qualification without taking gender, religion or national origin into account.
  • Disabled applicants with comparable qualifications will be given preference.
  • Candidates should have the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

If you have any questions, please contact: 

Do you have questions about the application procedure? Please send an email to [email protected].


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role then simply respond via the “Apply now” button, enclosing:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the names and email addresses of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is: 01/11/2021