PhD: Remote sensing of ecological and thermal effects of floating solar on lakes’ water quality

University of Twente

Twente, Netherlands 🇳🇱


The University of Twente wants to be an organisation that optimally deploys diversity, talents, and capabilities in the labour market for now and in the future. In the framework of our diversity and inclusiveness policy, we strongly stimulate people with a (work) disability to apply for this position.

The University of Twente is committed to providing a working environment where everyone is valued, respected, and supported to progress. Our priority is to ensure that no one is disadvantaged based on their ethnicity, gender, culture, disability, LGBTQ+ identities, family and caring responsibilities, age, or religion. We encourage everyone who shares these values to apply.

Your challenge

The use of solar energy is essential for the energy transition; otherwise, the Netherlands will not be able to achieve its ambitions under the Paris Climate Agreement. To spare scarce space on land, which could be used for agriculture or housing, the deployment of solar panels on water is being considered. The environmental effects of floating solar panels have not yet been fully mapped, which is a concern in society. Policy and legislation in this area are still in development.

The project SPARKELS: Sparking a nature–positive future of floating solar for human and nature across landscapes is an NWO-funded project that unites scientists and stakeholders across domains (energy, ecology, society) to develop nature-positive solutions for floating solar for humans and nature. One of the main questions underpinning SPARKELS is: what is the effect of floating solar on the ecological balance of inland waters?

You will carry out interdisciplinary and innovative research in interconnected themes ranging from indoor experimentation to global application of the developed methodology. Through integrating state-of-the-art Earth Observation (EO) data, process models, and indoor and outdoor measurements, you will be creating a novel, highly detailed observation model to characterize the effects of floating solar on lakes’ radiative energy transfer, water quality and metabolism. With such a model and EO data, you will identify optimal sites for placing floating solar and quantify their global/regional impact on the climate. In addition, you are required to attend project meetings, liaise with the project stakeholders and the public and contribute to the education programs at ITC.


  • An MSc in remote sensing of water quality, or related field
  • Strong understanding of radiative transfer processes within the visible part of the solar spectrum, coupled with a strong desire to acquire knowledge of thermal radiative transfer
  • Strong skills in utilizing multi-sensor satellite imagery for water quality monitoring, including advanced image processing techniques to derive indicators like chlorophyll-a and suspended solids
  • Demonstrated expertise in field measurements of water quality variables, with attention to ensuring data quality through validation procedures
  • Passionate about acquiring expertise in simulating aquatic biophysical and biochemical processes to understand lake ecosystem dynamics
  • Good analytical and programming skills
  • Good communication and writing skills in English


  • An inspiring multidisciplinary, international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda
  • Full-time position for 4 years
  • A professional and personal development programme within Twente Graduate School
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2,770.- in the first year that increases to € 3,539.- in the fourth year
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%
  • Excellent support for research and facilities for professional and personal development
  • A solid pension scheme
  • A total of 41 holiday days per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus.


For more information about the position, you can contact Dr Ir Suhyb Salama (e-mail: You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application before 15 March 2024 including:

  • A motivation letter (maximum 2 A4 pages) clearly stating your specific research interest, qualifications and motivation to apply for this position
  • A detailed CV with (at least three) references, including a list of publications
  • A copy of your MSc diploma and a list with grades of courses attended. If you are in the final stage, then a letter from your MSc supervisor is required, stating that the MSC is near completion. Only candidates with an MSc diploma obtained before the 30th of April 2024 will be considered.

Applications that do not include all three will not be considered.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for interviews which will probably take place on the 3rd of April 2024.





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