Doctoral position: Dam breach hydraulics via EURAXESS

ETH Zürich

Zürich, , CH

Doctoral position: Dam breach hydraulics

Water and ice are our passion at the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (D-BAUG) at ETH Zurich. We work in the domains of hydraulic engineering and structures, river engineering, numerical modelling, glaciology and glacier seismology. Our fields of activity are inland waters, hydropower, glaciers, natural hazards, river restoration, and river infrastructure. We contribute to the availability of clean and renewable electricity, to the protection against floods and cryospheric hazards, to sustainable watercourses and to the generation of new knowledge in the corresponding fields.

Project background

The project aims at improving the basic process understanding of the hydraulics of dam breaching. Overtopping constitutes the primary failure mode of embankments like reservoir dams or dykes. The resulting breach outflow is particularly dangerous to surrounding infrastructure and the environment, as it usually occurs unpredictably both on a temporal and a spatial scale. In flood protection projects, dam breach scenarios should be accounted for in the assessment of the residual risk for the overload scenario, determining the emergency action plans and the associated intervention measures. This, in turn, requires a thorough understanding of the physical processes involved in dam breaching due to overtopping. The project takes a composite approach, combining scale-model tests in the laboratory with numerical modelling.

Job description

The research activities involve:

  • Setup and operation of scale-model tests in the institute’s hydraulic laboratory
  • Application of a state-of-the-art photogrammetric measurement system and corresponding data analysis
  • Setup and operation of numerical model tests to reproduce and extend scale-model tests
  • Development of an improved parameter model based on test results
  • Presentation of project results at international conferences
  • Publication of articles in scientific journals
  • Doctoral studies

The starting date is negotiable, the latest start being envisioned for the beginning of 2021. The planned project duration is 4 years.

Your profile

  • Master’s degree in civil or environmental engineering (or equivalent), with a specialization in hydraulic or geotechnical engineering
  • Background in hydraulic experimentation and/or numerical modelling
  • Coding experience (e.g. Python, MATLAB)
  • Proficient command of the English language, written and spoken
  • Good communication skills

ETH Zurich

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.


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

  • CV,
  • short description of your motivation and research interests (1 page),
  • complete academic transcript including undergraduate and graduate courses,
  • abstract or summary of an own research work, e.g master’s thesis (1-2 pages),
  • contact information including e-mail of 2 referees.

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 Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) can be found on our website Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Robert Boes, e-mail: [email protected] (no applications).





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