PhD on machine learning-based flood forecasting at national scale

University of Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark 🇩🇰

With this PhD position, you have the opportunity to develop cutting-edge modelling systems to provide key hydrological information to the Danish society. The real-time forecasting system to be developed will leverage information on flood inundation risk to increase resilience towards hydrological extremes.

The PhD project is part of a large project that involves collaboration with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), the Danish Agency for Data Supply and Infrastructure (SDFI) and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (MST).

Job description
Within the PhD project you will conduct cutting-edge research within large-scale flood inundation modelling utilizing a suite of modelling tools, i.e., hydrological models, hydrodynamic models, machine learning (ML) and hybrid models. The latter benefit from combining the best of the alternative modelling approaches. You will work with satellite-derived (e.g. Sentinel SAR and optical data) inundation maps, observed water levels in streams, precipitation data, and high-resolution digital elevation models to further develop and contrast the alternative modelling approaches. Your project will be transdisciplinary spanning over hydrology, remote sensing and ML, in particular spatial Deep Learning approaches.      

The specific objectives include (1) the development of a novel ML-based flood inundation modelling framework, (2) the inter-comparison of alternative methods (ML-stand alone, hydrodynamic models and different degrees of novel hybrid models) to model inundated areas, (3) transferring the methods from Denmark to different geographic settings.

As a PhD at GEUS, you will contribute to the further development of the ongoing efforts to operationalize the national coupled groundwater surface water model (DK-Model) to provide real-time and forecast information on the status of groundwater and surface water to the Danish society. You will work closely with a Post Doc who will be hired on the same project starting in January 2024. You will be enrolled at the PhD school at the Faculty of SCIENCE at the University of Copenhagen. At the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at University of Copenhagen, you will also interact and collaborate with early career researchers from related projects, e.g., the recently launched Global Wetland Center.      

You should expect to broaden your existing field by covering elements of hydrological modelling, remote sensing, machine learning, data analysis and data management. Your research findings should be published in leading journals within the field. You are expected to contribute to the internationalization of the project by attending international conferences and going on an external research stay during the course of your PhD project.        

Your qualifications
You are expected to hold an academic university degree (MSc in geosciences, environmental sciences or engineering, physics, computer science or related) and the appointment will be made based on your study record and related work experience. Special emphasis will be placed on experience with numerical hydrological/hydrodynamic modelling and machine learning. In addition, specific knowledge or experience with satellite remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS) and programming skills (ideally python) will be an asset. Moreover, previous involvement in dissemination of scientific results via peer-reviewed journals or conferences will be positively evaluated.

Special consideration will be given to the candidate’s ability to embrace a broad range of activities and collaborate within a team of colleagues on a daily basis. The candidate must also master English and if they do not speak Danish, they are encouraged to take up Danish classes and reach an appropriate level of understanding.

Department of Hydrology
The department of Hydrology at GEUS works with the characterisation, modelling and management of the water cycle and solute transport in Danish and international contexts. The department contributes with research, consultancy, and capacity building in four main areas: hydrogeological characterisation, water and solute cycle, climate impacts and adaptation, and water management. Most of the department’s activities are carried out in close cooperation with Danish as well as foreign research institutes and universities. There are about 25 staff in the department, of which nearly 20 are researchers or PhD students and postdocs.

We offer

  • A creative and interdisciplinary research environment
  • A lively and informal working environment with talented and dedicated colleagues
  • Development opportunities with access to courses and other further education
  • Family friendly workplace with flextime
  • An active social environment, with a staff association and art society
  • Fitness centre with physiotherapy at the workplace

Salary and conditions of employment
In accordance with the collective agreements between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and the relevant eligible trade union.

The appointment requires that the student can be enrolled in the Graduate School of  Copenhagen. University

The appointment area is the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities and its institutions.

The position is for a three-year period (36 months) and is to be filled as soon as possible, 01-01-2024 at the latest.

The Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities considers diversity to be an asset and invites anybody interested, regardless of gender, age, religion, or ethnicity to apply for the position.

Further information
Please contact Senior Researcher Julian Koch on tel. +45 9133 3616 e-mail: or the Head of Department Heidi Barlebo on tel. +45 9133 3601, e-mail: You can also contact Professor Rasmus Fensholt at the University of Copenhagen on tel. +45 3532 2526, e-mail:

International applicants can read more about living and working in Denmark on GEUS’ homepage:

The application must include a letter of motivation, a CV, MSc diploma, as well as a short summary of the MSc thesis. If relevant, contact details of referees (max. 2).

Submitted MSc theses that have not yet been defended may be documented or attached to the application and will be included in the assessment. The MSc degree must be obtained prior to appointment.

Please, apply for the position by clicking the “Apply for position” (“Søg stillingen”) button. Your application must be with GEUS no later than 12.00 midday (Danish time), Monday 9 October 2023.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.





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