PhD position in glacial carbon cycling and hydrology

University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

A 3-year PhD fellowship is available at the Department of Geosciences & Natural Resource Management (IGN), University of Copenhagen, Denmark, with an expected start 1 February 2021, or shortly thereafter.
The PhD is part of the project ‘Methane Emissions from Ice Sheet – importance for the past, present and future atmosphere (MetICE) funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark.

About the project
Recent discoveries show massive release of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere from the subglacial environment of glaciers in Greenland. This demonstrates that glaciers and ice sheets are active components of the global carbon and CH4 cycle with potential short- and long-term impacts on the global climate system. Improving the understanding of the processes and the magnitude of CO2 and CH4 emissions from the GrIS is required for quantifying the current and potential future contribution of CH4 from glaciated areas to the natural carbon budget and atmospher. In MetICE we aim to fill this knowledge gap by investigating the release dynamics of subglacial CH4 and CO2 emissions from a meltwater outlet at the Greenland Ice Sheet, including possible sources, ages and amounts of the current emissions as well as dominant process drivers.

We seek a highly motivated PhD student to participate in this exciting, new research field of cryospheric carbon cycling in the Arctic. As a PhD you will be part of a strong international research team with partners from University of Copenhagen (Dr. Jesper Riis Christiansen (IGN) and Prof. Thomas Blunier (NBI)), Aarhus University (Dr. Christian Juncher Jørgensen (Arctic Environment) and Utrecht University in Netherlands (Prof. Thomas Röckmann (IMAU). Your research will help to investigate the role that glaciated areas play in the global and Arctic carbon budget and shed light on how periods of glacial retreat or advance may affect the mixing ratios of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere.

About the PhD position
The PhD position is highly interdisciplinary and involves substantial amounts of fieldwork at the margin of the Greenland Ice sheet over several years. You will be working with measuring meltwater hydrology and using advanced methods for gas detection in the field, as well as with isotopic techniques in the laboratory.

Your key responsibilities in the PhD project are

  • Plan and participate in field work in Kangerlussuaq in Greenland during three field seasons 2021-2023
  • Investigate the hydrology (source and magnitude) and export and emission of CH4 and CO2 at a meltwater outlet as well as characterizing the isotopic and elemental composition of gas and water
  • Develop instruments and methods for continuous measurements of carbon dioxide and methane in meltwater and air
  • Attend PhD courses (in total of 30 ECTS)
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Disseminate your research at the institute and conferences
  • Research visit at a foreign research institution for up to six months
  • Work for the department (teaching and supervision of students)


Requirements for applying for the position and the candidate
Applicants must hold an MSc degree or equivalent. Priority is given to candidates with a background in one of the following areas: glaciology, hydrology, biogeochemistry or environmental science. Fieldwork experience is required, preferably in Arctic environments. Practical field experience with advanced equipment for hydrological or greenhouse gas studies is an advantage, in addition to basic knowledge of electronics and programming. Applicants must be fluent in both written and spoken English to a level sufficiently high for communication and dissemination at an academic level.

About the host institute
University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is the largest research and education institution in Denmark. Internationally, the UCPH is highly competitive and is ranked as one of the leading universities globally with the most recent Shanghai rankings placed the University as No. 26 worldwide and No. 6 in Europe.

As a PhD student in MetICE, you will be enrolled at SCIENCE PhD school at University of Copenhagen and your main workplace will be at IGN. At IGN research and education is conducted on the past, present and future physical, chemical and biological environments of the Earth and their interactions with societal and human systems to provide graduates and research in support of sustainable future solutions for society. The department has strong experience in interdisciplinary collaboration within and beyond the department.  IGN has over 400 employees and 25 full professors. UCPH has a strong commitment to its doctoral programme and IGN recruits over 35 new PhDs annually, about half being foreign students, which ensures a multicultural, international environment. IGN has a number of highly instrumented large-scale field experiments and monitoring stations.

Dr. Jesper Riis Christiansen will be your main supervisor. Jesper is working with CH4 dynamics in soils and sediments and how these processes impact the atmospheric composition of greenhouse gases. Academic co-supervision will be provided by Dr. Christian Juncher Jørgensen at Aarhus University, Department of Bioscience - Arctic Environment (AE) in Roskilde and you are expected to spend part of your time at AE. Christian has a background in soil biogeochemistry and is an expert in applying and developing equipment for field measurements of greenhouse gases.

Terms of employment
The terms of employment and salary are in accordance with Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff. Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the University’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 27.135 DKK /approx. 3.633 EUR (April 2019-level) plus pension.

The deadline for applications is 30 September 2020, 23:59 GMT +2

More information
For further information about the position, applicants should contact principal supervisor Associate Professor, Jesper Riis Christiansen, Forest, Nature and Biomass Section, University of Copenhagen, , +45 3533 6942.

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format:

1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page) including references

2. Brief description of possible research ideas and relevant methods for the MetICE project (max. one page, cited literature excluded)

3. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

4. Master of Science diploma (or equivalent) and transcript of records. If the MSc degree has not been completed at the time of application, a written statement from your institution/supervisor assessing your academic level and expected graduation date, as well as a certified/signed copy of the most recent transcript of records will be acceptable.

5. Publication list (if relevant)

University of Copenhagen wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 30-09-2020

Employment start: 01-02-2021

Working hours: Full time

Department/Location: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning