Junior research scientist in large-scale hydrological modeling of catchments under multiple influences


Île-de-France, France 🇫🇷


  • Profile number: CR-2023-AQUA-1
  • Corps: CRCN
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 16

INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research.

INRAE is recruiting researchers by open competition and offering permanent position.

It is a major player in research and innovation created on 1st of January 2020. INRAE is a research institute resulting from the merger of INRA and IRSTEA. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.

The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

You will work in the Continental Hydrosystems research unit (UR HYCAR). It gathers forty researchers, engineers, PhD students, and post-doctoral fellows. Composed of three teams, it brings together skills in observation and modelling around hydrology and hydro-climatic risks, soil sciences and hydro-agricultural developments, river ecology, and the impact of man on biodiversity and hydrosystems. Internationally recognised for its hydrological and ecological models and databases, HYCAR is also involved in national and European projects and participates in numerous international networks and bodies.

Within HYCAR, you will be working in the Catchment Hydrology team (HYDRO). The HYDRO team conducts research in the field of hydrological modelling on different spatial and temporal scales and develops hydrological forecasting and projection chains. It focuses on the hydrological response of catchments subjected to a wide variety of physical and climatic conditions, in the anticipation and prevention of water-related risks (floods and droughts), as well as the management of water resources and the evaluation of adaptation and mitigation measures for the impacts of global changes. To meet these objectives, the team is involved in the development of systemic (“top-down”) modelling approaches and the construction of databases adapted to the needs of these models. This work is carried out with open science in mind, with the provision of flexible and open-source codes (e.g. airGR package and airGRteaching software).

The HYDRO team aims in particular to meet the needs of water managers by taking into account the risks due to multiple hazards and human activities on a wide variety of scales, from small catchments to continents. In the Anthropocene era, these human activities play an increasingly significant role in the natural hydrological cycle. Large-scale catchment modelling provides a relevant framework to provide a comprehensive view of these multiple hazards.

The main objective of your research will be to develop, based on systems approaches, large-scale (national to continental) hydrological models to represent the behaviour of catchments under multiple human influences (storage in reservoirs, surface and underground withdrawals for various uses, discharges, inter-basin transfers, etc.) in an integrated (natural and human systems), parsimonious, flexible, and robust way. Your models will aim, through an adapted and modular approach, to reproduce globally the effects of these influences at the scales of interest (basin or sub-basin) by seeking simple functions to approximate the responses influenced. At the same time, your models should be sufficiently explicit to allow scenario testing of the evolution of these influences, whether at strategic, tactical, or real-time levels. You will develop advanced testing strategies for the models developed to evaluate their capacity to fit into hydrological forecasting and projection chains, take into account multiple hazards impacting water management and the risks associated with hydrological extremes, and quantify the impacts of global changes (climate and water use).

The models you will design will be based on those developed within the HYDRO team using a “top-down” approach and should be able to account for influences in various contexts of data type and availability. You will develop specific databases to collect a wide range of influences. You will extend the potential of your models by coupling them with complementary models (simplified hydraulics, optimisation, etc.) necessary to account for the impacts of management actions and infrastructures to better simulate extreme hydrometeorological phenomena (floods, low water levels) under influence. You will use existing databases within the team (France and certain regions of the world) and INRAE. You will explore new data sources in connection with research that is being developed at European and international levels on large-scale models and the functioning of the Earth system (in particular the Copernicus services). Your research will fall within INRAE’s “open science” approach and support public policies by producing hydroclimatic services for decision-making.

Your activities will be part of national and international scientific projects that you will be required to set up in partnership with research actors. You will promote your work through publications in leading journals, and contribute to the training and scientific activities of the HYDRO team and the HYCAR research unit.

Your research will contribute to the research activities of the AQUA department and to achieving the major scientific objectives and priorities associated with its Strategic Plan (https://www.inrae.fr/departements/aqua). You will be proactive in contributing to multidisciplinary projects aimed at integrated and sustainable water management as a shared resource and contribute to the multidisciplinary approach for better-integrated management of catchments.

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

  • Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent.
  • A PhD in the field of hydrology or more generally in the earth sciences is highly recommended.
  • Strong knowledge of hydrology and applied climatology, experience in hydrological modelling and computer programming, and the ability to handle large databases would be appreciated.
  • Knowledge of water stakeholders and water risk and management issues would also be appreciated.
  • Writing skills and a proven ability to publish in leading international journals, as well as a taste for teamwork would be desirable.
  • Candidates should have a good command of English (both written and spoken), and long-term international experience would also be desirable. Successful candidates who have not yet acquired this experience abroad will be required to do so after their probationary period (1st year).

INRAE’s life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

– 30 days of annual leave + 15 days “Reduction of Working Time” (for a full time);
– parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
– skills development systems: trainingcareer advise;
– social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
– holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
– sports and cultural activities;
– collective catering.

For international scientists: please visit your guide to facilitate your arrival and stay at INRAE


VAZKEN ANDRÉASSIAN: 01 40 96 62 58, vazken.andreassian@inrae.fr

CHARLES PERRIN: 01 40 96 60 86, charles.perrin@inrae.fr





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development