PhD position in catchment hydrology within the DFG-funded Research Unit “Subsurface Stormflow” (f_m_x)

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Potsdam, Germany 🇩🇪

The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,400 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth.

As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities.

For section 4.4 Hydrology (department “Geosystems”), we are looking for a:

PhD position in catchment hydrology within the DFG-funded Research Unit “Subsurface Stormflow” (f_m_x)

Reference Number 6890

The Section Hydrology at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, in collaboration with the Department of Hydrology at the University of Bayreuth, is offering a PhD position for 3 years within the DFG-funded Research Unit “Fast and invisible: Conquering Subsurface Stormflow (SSF) through an Interdisciplinary Multi-Site Approach”.

The PhD student will work together with two other PhD students and a postdoctoral researcher in the context of the two closely linked projects: “SSF Transform – Monitoring the generation and transformation of subsurface stormflow from hillslopes through the riparian zone” and “SSF Connect – Longitudinal Patterns of SSF-Stream Connections”. We are looking for a PhD student for the second project. The research will focus on quantifying subsurface stormflow on hillslopes, its transfer through the riparian zone, specifically investigating hillslope-riparian zone-stream connectivity at the reach to catchment scale. A novel experimental design is used to identify hillslope SSF and to follow its typical physical and chemical signatures during passage through the riparian zone and along the stream channel network based on hydrometric and tracer-hydrological measurements. The intensive experimental work will be conducted in four catchments in Germany and Austria. The joint field campaigns with the partners of the research unit will provide a unique chance of being embedded in an interdisciplinary and enthusiastic research network and to obtain insights into a diverse range of methodological approaches. The PhD candidate will be co-advised by the project leaders and a very close collaboration between the PhD students and project staff at both institutions (and partners at the Universities in Freiburg and Zürich) is expected.

Your responsibilities:

  • Tracer experiments in the stream, including the evelopment of a novel monitoring system (this will include optimizing logger programs and developing calibration routines)
  • Installation and maintenance of monitoring of equipment, including observation wells, stream gauging stations and sensors in the stream and the riparian zone
  • Identification of hotspots of subsurface inflows through distributed temperature sensing using fiber-optic cables (DTS)
  • In-depth data analysis using R, Python or Matlab, including the analysis of large data sets based on deep learning techniques
  • Presentation and publication of the scientific results

Your qualifications:

  • Applicants should have an MSc degree in hydrology, geosciences, environmental sciences, geography, engineering or a closely related field.
  • We are seeking enthusiastic, curious, self-driven and committed candidates who enjoy working in the field as part of a larger team (field campaigns of several weeks are to be expected) and also enjoy programming as well as interacting with sensor hardware.
  • Applicants should have some experience in environmental fieldwork.
  • Excellent quantitative skills (data analysis, statistics, programming) are expected, as well as very good English writing and communication skills.
  • Some knowledge of or interest in DIY environmental sensing based on Arduinos or similar is of advantage.
  • German is an asset but not essential.
  • A valid driver’s license (European Cat. B) is required.

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • Institute day-care centre on site
  • Working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Start date: 15th March 2023
Fixed-term: 3 years
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Part-time 75% (currently 29.25 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam

Have we piqued your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 22nd January 2023. Please use our online application form only.


Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at], who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Dr. Theresa Blume either via email at or phone +49 (0)331-288 1512. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-6264-28787.






IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development