PhD position: Circulation, mixing and transport in the southern North Sea under the influence of anthropogenic change

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

FACULTY/DEPARTMENT: Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences




SALARY: € 2.541,00 – € 3.247,00



Are you passionate about coastal seas and oceanography? Do you have the drive and curiosity to study flow and transport processes under present and future conditions? Then this job may be for you!

Job description

For the research project ‘Circulation, mixing and transport in the southern North Sea and the influence of large scale sand extraction’, the section of Environmental Fluid Mechanics at Delft University of Technology is looking for a candidate with a strong background in physical oceanography/ environmental fluid dynamics and/or 3D hydrodynamic modelling, or a physicist, mathematician or engineer, strongly motivated to study flow and transport in a coastal sea.

In this project, you will investigate the physical oceanography of the southern North Sea, with a particular focus on the Rhine River Plume, one of the largest river plumes in Europe. Coastal processes such as tidal straining, river plume dynamics, upwelling and downwelling and sub-mesoscale processes determine the circulation, mixing and transport of fine sediments, tracers and larvae in coastal and shelf seas. You will study how these phenomena will be affected by bathymetric changes related to large scale sand extraction, both now and under predicted climate change. You will also explore how these effects influence the transport of fish larvae across the southern North Sea and into the deltas.

To investigate these coastal transport processes in the southern North Sea, you will use a combination of  modelling, particle tracking and data analysis. High-resolution 3D numerical hydrodynamic modelling of the North Sea will be the main research method. Existing and new field data of salinity, temperature, velocity and turbulence will be collected for physical understanding and model verification. The simulations will be carried out on high performance computational facilities for a range of sand extraction designs, also considering IPCC climate scenarios. Advanced Particle Tracking techniques will be applied to determine the impact on larvae transport and the connectivity between spawning grounds and settling locations. You will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Julie Pietrzak and Dr. Ir. Wouter Kranenburg, and will actively collaborate with a wider group of researchers.

This project is part of the collaborative, multi-disciplinary NWO-funded research program OR ELSE. In this program, a broad consortium of Dutch institutes, universities and stakeholders will work together to develop recommendations on sustainable, ecosystem-based sand extraction strategies for the southern North Sea. As part of this, new fundamental knowledge will be developed on the effects of large-scale sand extraction on the physical, biogeochemical and ecological conditions of ecosystems. In this PhD-project on circulation, mixing, turbidity and larvae transport, you will collaborate with other PhD’s in the OR-ELSE program who will be carrying out research on e.g. bed evolution, algae production, seafloor fauna and shrimp and fish populations. The program is motivated by an expected dramatic increase in sand extraction due to climate change, to supply sand for large scale sand nourishments for coastal protection both in The Netherlands and around the world.

We are looking for a candidate with curiosity, motivation, a relevant background and an eagerness to learn. If you are interested in this position, please explain your motivation in your application letter. Discuss what interests you in this particular project and how your background and experience relate to it. We also welcome your application if your experience does not fully fit our advert, but please also explain what captured your imagination.


  • An MSc degree, preferably in Physical Oceanography, Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Earth System Science, Meteorology, or Physics, Mathematics, Hydraulic Engineering or other relevant disciplines.
  • Strong proven affinity with physical processes behind circulation and transport, preferably related to transport hydrodynamics in estuaries, river plumes, coastal seas or oceans.
  • Strong affinity with numerical modelling and/or data processing, preferably related to circulation and transport in oceans, coastal seas, river plumes or estuaries.
  • Excellent ability to think conceptually and quantitatively.
  • Excellent ability to communicate in English both in speech and in writing.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Wouter Kranenburg ( or prof.dr. Julie Pietrzak (

For information about the application procedure, please contact Monique Scheers, HR adviser (

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 19 March 2023 via the application button and upload:

  • Your letter of motivation.
  • Your Curriculum Vitae.
  • Your list of grades/transcripts (bachelor and master).
  • Contact information of two references.
  • If already available: your master thesis.

Please note:

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.





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