PhD position: Basin wide land-use changes and hydro-ecological impairments

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
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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The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) with its 1,100 employees has gained an excellent reputation as an international competence centre for environmental sciences. We are part of the largest scientific organisation in Germany, the Helmholtz association. Our mission: Our research seeks to find a balance between social development and the long-term protection of our natural resources.

The UFZ, TU Dresden, Purdue University and University of Florida with German Environmental Agency (UBA), the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the European Environment Agency (EEA) as cooperating partners started the Helmholtz International Research School „Trajectories towards Water Security (TRACER)” to develop a new comprehensive understanding of spatiotemporal trajectories of human impacts on natural water systems and feedbacks between human and ecological systems. We believe that this understanding must be globally transferable at multiple scales and across wide ranges of geographic, hydro-climatic, and socio-economic settings.
With TRACER, we will develop methods to (1) hindcast multi‐decadal hydro‐ecological trajectories of human impacts on water and vice versa, (2) disentangle human pressures and natural variability, (3) reliably forecast future pathways under climate- and land-use- change scenarios to achieve water security, and (4) analyze impacts of policies and regulations to enhance water security, modify social behavior and support ecological recovery.
TRACER offers 4 PhD positions in 5 thematic subjects.

PhD position (m/f/x)

Subject: 4: Basin wide land-use changes and hydro-ecological impairments

Project start: 1st February 2020, working time 65% (25.35 hours per week); limited for three years
The place of work will be based at UFZ or one of the partner institutions, depending on the supervisor team. Regular exchange with the partners is assumed. More information on TRACER can be found under
Interviews are expected to take place 1st or 2nd week of December. Tele media options will be available in exceptional cases.

Your tasks:

  • Historical developments of land-use change, agriculture and water quality
  • Effects of projected irrigation activities in central Europe due to climate warming
  • Contrasting role of climate vs. socioeconomic factors on future development of water quality across Europe
  • Identifying the importance of intensive land-use for food/fiber production and large-scale animal pasture systems for impacted river networks, wetlands, and lakes

Your profile:

  • You should have a Master degree in in geoscience or environmental science, and knowledge in hydrological processes at the catchment scale. Also, a strong interest in working with water quality and land use/land cover data to understand underlying drivers and processes and basic knowledge in hydrology, biogeochemistry and aquatic ecology.
  • It would be highly beneficial if you already have experience in scripting and programming languages such as R, Matlab or Python and experience in statistical methods and data analysis tools (e.g. machine learning).
  • Moreover are very good written and spoken English and communication skills mandatory.
  • You should also be willing to work in transdisciplinary projects, intercultural teams and are flexible to travel as there is the possibility for stays abroad of up to 6 months. You should be ready to adopt the TRACER curriculum and to actively engage in TRACER activities.In general you should be curious, highly motivated and have an entrepreneurial attitude.
  • German communication skills would be beneficial.
  • Applications should include two recommendation letters with references

We offer:

  • Top level interdisciplinary research at a research centre which enjoys an excellent reputation within Germany as well as internationally
  • Excellent technical facilities
  • Work in inter-disciplinary and multinational teams
  • Excellent links to national and international research networks
  • Support and optimal training courses by our graduate school (HIGRADE)
  • Remuneration in accordance with the TVöD public-sector pay grade 13 (65%)  including attractive public-sector social security benefits