PhD Fellow in Remote Sensing of Produced Water

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Tromsø, , NO

The position

The Department of Physics and Technology announces a vacant position of a 3-year PhD fellow in the area of satellite remote sensing and modelling for detection and characterization of produced water.

The position is affiliated the Centre for Integrated Remote Sensing and Forecasting for Arctic Operations (CIRFA). CIRFA conducts research on integrated remote sensing for Arctic operations by developing data analysis methods and technologies for reliably characterizing and monitoring the physical environment of the Arctic. The Centre also explores methods to efficiently assimilate the derived information into models to perform improved predictions of sea ice state, meteorological and oceanographic conditions. The announced project is associated with WP3, which conducts research on remote sensing of oil spills.

The position is for a fixed term period of three years. The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position. The PhD candidate shall participate in the faculty’s organized research training, and the PhD project shall be completed during the period of employment.

The position is available for commencement from 1 October, 2020. The workplace is at UiT in Tromsø. You must be able to start in the position in Tromsø within a reasonable time after receiving the offer.

The positions field of research

Beyond being a potential risk for marine life around oil platforms, observations and simulations of films from produced water releases can be used to improve understanding of the fate of thin oil films in general. Thin oil films have been found to make up most of the area and volume of accidental oil spill releases. This underscores the importance of improved remote sensing detection and characterization methodology and correct modelling of thin films for oil spill risk assessment. This project shall develop an integrated methodology for advanced characterization of produced water slicks from offshore installations. This will be done by combining information derived for satellite remote sensing, plume and oil drift simulations, in-situ measurements from platforms releasing produced water, and drifters to be deployed.

The ultimate goal is to develop algorithms from remote sensing data to separate between releases with a raised oil volumetric fraction or increased droplet size. An investigation of the similarities and dissimilarities for characterizing produced water slicks using optical and radar sensors will also be carried out. The end-product would add to the offshore situation awareness and be an instrumental information item during pollution recovery operations specifically and for environmental offshore monitoring in general.

Roles and responsibilities of the PhD Fellow

The PhD Fellow will be associated to work package WP3 in CIRFA (i.e., oil spill remote sensing), and the candidate will have collaboration with WP5 (i.e., numerical modelling). The project will be established as a collaboration between UiT, MET Norway and SINTEF Ocean.

The following key points are expected to be covered by the research:

  • Develop information retrieval algorithms of produced water characteristics from SAR and optical measurements.
  • Combine or fuse optical and SAR observations and investigate signatures of produced water in comparison with in-situ data such as produced water concentration and volume sampled at off-shore platforms.
  • Investigate the adequacy of existing atmospheric correction methodology for optical data in relation to oil spill characterization.
  • Develop and/or apply segmentation methods (machine learning) to extract oil masks from SAR and optical data that shall be used for initialization and verification of oil drift simulations.
  • Initialize physical models (near-field and oil transport and fate models) and run prediction of slick trajectories integrated with remote sensing information (oil spill masks).
  • Compare the similarities and dissimilarities of extent and position of simulated and remote sensing observed slicks utilizing statistical measures.


Further information about the position is available by contacting:


The position requires a Norwegian Master’s degree, or a corresponding foreign Master’s degree recognised as equivalent to a Norwegian Master’s degree, in applied physics, mathematics, statistics, or other relevant disciplines.

The suitable candidate must have:

  • Experience with remote sensing data analysis (SAR and/or optical)
  • Background in signal and image processing
  • Good skills in programming and English language

Knowledge in physics, statistics, machine learning, and numerical modelling, plus previous experience related oil pollution remote sensing would be advantageous. 

Documented fluency in English is required and working knowledge of Norwegian or a Scandinavian language is desirable.

Admission to the PhD programme

Admission requires that the applicant has at least 5 years of higher education, equivalent to 300 ECTS. The applicant must have a Master’s thesis evaluated equivalent to 30 ECTS or more, or 20 ECTS for an integrated Master’s degree. The applicant must have an average of C or better. For applicants with a foreign education, it will be evaluated if the educational background is equivalent to Norwegian higher education. We use national guidelines according to NOKUT. Applicants from some countries will have to document additional higher education in order to be admitted to the programme.

Further information about requirements and the PhD programme is available here: PhD education – Faculty of Sciences and Technology. When appointed, the fellow will be provisionally admitted to the PhD programme. After commencement, application for final admission to the PhD programme must be submitted within a stipulated deadline.

As many as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.


Your application must include:

  • Application and motivation letter (max 1 page)
  • CV (max 2 pages)
  • Diplomas, diploma supplements and transcripts for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree
  • Documentation of English language proficiency for PhD-studies
  • Three references, preferably including the master thesis supervisor
  • Master thesis, and up to ten other academic works
  • Description of your academic production


Qualification with a Master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your Master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must document completion of your degree before commencement in the position.

All documents and letters must be in English or a Scandinavian language. Thesis and other academic works should preferably be in English or a Scandinavian language. We only accept applications sent via

The assessment will emphasize motivation, academic and personal suitability for the position and the research project. Emphasis will be put on potential for research as shown by the Master’s thesis and any other academic works. In addition, we may consider work experience, teaching qualifications or other activities of significance for the PhD studies. The applicant should be creative, with a strong ability to work problem oriented, and enjoy working in collaboration with others. Furthermore, the applicant must be willing to engage in the ongoing development of the discipline and the university as a whole.

 We offer

  • Involvement in an interesting research project
  • A fantastic work environment with friendly and dedicated colleagues
  • Excellent career opportunities
  • A large degree of independence in work
  • Opportunities to travel and meet other leading scientists within the field
  • Pension scheme through the state pension fund

UiT has good welfare arrangements for employees including beneficial arrangements for pension and insurances. The UiT main campus is located near the centre of Tromsø, a vibrant city located in Northern Norway with approximately 75 000 inhabitants. The location also offers ample opportunities for e.g., sighting aurora, hiking and skiing.

More practical information for working and living in Norway can be found here: Welcome to UiT!

Remuneration of PhD positions are in salary code 1017, and normally start at salary grade 54 on the pay scale for Norwegian state employees. There is a 2% deduction for contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.





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