PhD position on attributing hydrological extremes under climate change

ETH Zürich

Zürich, Switzerland 🇨🇭

The Land-Climate Dynamics group is looking for a Doctoral candidate to investigate the influence of anthropogenic climate change on recent droughts and floods at regional to global scales.

Project background

Human greenhouse gas emissions are altering the climate system at an unprecedented pace, making hydrological systems one of the focal points of climate change. Hence, the occurrence of hydrological extremes such as droughts and floods trigger legitimate questions on the role anthropogenic climate change plays therein. The role of anthropogenic climate change on high-impact weather events is often assessed with extreme event attribution (EEA) techniques. These techniques aim at quantifying to what degree the occurrence probability or the intensity of an observed event has changed in response to climate change. For doing so, EEA relies on a diligent assessment of observational changes as well as an analysis of model simulations of factual (i.e. present day) and counter-factual (e.g., pre-industrial or past) climatic conditions. The goal of the project is to bridge this gap by developing a framework that enables an automated EEA, i.e., to quantify to which degree anthropogenic climate change has changed the occurrence probability or the magnitude of recently observed hydrological extremes. The research will be conducted within the “Automated Attribution of Hydrological High Impact Events Fueled by Changing Climate” project that is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and linked to the PROCLIAS project.

Job description

As a doctoral student you will conduct quantitative and theoretical research at the interface between hydrological and climate sciences and investigate approaches that allow for an automated attribution of hydrological extremes at regional to global scales. This involves developing concepts for an automated attribution of hydrological extremes to anthropogenic climate change and their implementation using quantitative methods. To this end you will feed ensemble simulations of climate models to a global river flow routing model and apply extreme value statistics to both observational and simulated data.

Your profile

  • You hold a master’s degree in climate/environmental science, hydrology, physics, statistics, applied math or a related field (or you will graduate soon).
  • You are a creative personality and enjoy solving scientific problems independently as well as in team efforts.
  • You have a strong interest in terrestrial climate variability and hydrological extremes.
  • You are passionate about using quantitative methods with focus on statistical data analysis and/or large-scale physical modelling.
  • You have a good command of scripting languages suitable for data analysis (e.g. R or Python), knowledge of other programming languages is beneficial
  • You have good command of spoken and written English.

We offer

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Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Application letter in which you outline your motivation and research interest (max. 1 page).
  • Curriculum Vitae including an overview of relevant courses taken and a list of publications (if any)
  • Names and contact details of two professional referees.

Screening of applications will start on 20th January.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr Lukas Gudmundsson, (no applications). Administrative requests should be directed to Rahel Buri,

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development