PhD Assessing Climate Risks for Global Agricultural Production and Consequences for the European Economy

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Job description

In an interconnected world, Europe’s economy and society will be affected by climate change impacts that occur beyond its borders. The movement of goods and services, people and capital occurs at ever increasing rates and volumes. Both gradual and sudden impacts from climate change at any location in the world (tropical cyclones, droughts, melting ice sheets) propagate through these networks, and can ultimately impact Europe’s socio-economic welfare. The EU-funded H2020 project RECEIPT will study these impacts by mapping global hotspots of remote areas that are relevant for Europe through their connection pathways and sensitivity to climate change by co-developing sectoral storylines that describe the impacts and risks of remote climate conditions in these hotspots. RECEIPT unites leading climate impact institutes throughout Europe and ultimately aims to assess the European socio-economic impacts for various storylines following the three 'Paris scenarios'.

Europe’s food security and agri-food based economy is one of the focus sectors within the RECEIPT project. Hence, the PhD position offered will be focusing on the global agricultural production sector and has the aim to quantify the impacts and risk of (current and future) remote climate conditions and extremes for EU’s food security and agri-food based economy by modelling global and regional agricultural production risk pools. 

Your duties

  • coupling an existing global hydrological model to a global agricultural production model to develop time-series of historical and future global crop production
  • attributing climate change and climate extremes to anomalies in agricultural production to identify global hotspots of agricultural production risk
  • mapping of global and regional agricultural production risk pools relevant for Europe by means of novel statistical techniques such as Machine Learning
  • quantify the impact and risk for Europe’s food security and agri-food based economy with the help of existing agricultural trade models
  • publish results in international journals and finalize the work in a PhD thesis
  • contribute to teaching
  • present progress at project meetings and international conferences


  • a Master’s degree in Hydrology, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, Applied Mathematics, Climate Science, Computational Science, Physics, or a related field
  • strong willingness to learn simulation modelling (hydrological and crop modelling), quantitative data-assessment, programming (preferably in Python, or willing to learn Python) and statistical methods
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger team of researchers from other disciplines involved in international research projects

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (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 allowance based on public transport
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 23,000 students. We employ more than 4,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

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.

IVM and the department of Water and Climate Risk

Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognized 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 Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM is part of the Faculty of Science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (

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 before 1 June 2019.

Vacancy questions 

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

Name: Ted Veldkamp
Position: Assistant Professor
Telephone: +31 (0)20 5982750