Research engineer in critical zone modeling

Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
Paris, France
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


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Over the 2019-2020 period, the work realized has allowed for the process-based model EcH2O-iso (Kuppel et al., GMD, 2018) to be deployed in four catchments from OZCAR RI, all in bedrock context. Premilinary results overall suggest the relevance of this modelling tool to better describe and understand transient water stores and their interactions with vegetation functioning. This postdoctoral position further expands this line of work.
You will address the following scientific questions: How much water is being temporarily stored in the critical zone? How old is this water? How much of this water is being taken up by the plants? In turn, how does vegetation control water partitioning between surface runoff and subsurface flowpaths in the OZCAR RI observatories?


To reach these scientific objectives, you will be expected to:
- use the EcH2O-iso model, to handle several type of datasets for a multi-data calibration and evaluation of the model, and to carry out sensitivity tests, over several catchments located in mainland France and selected together with the OZCAR RI community;
- identify relevant hydrological and geochemical signatures, as well as spatial and temporal scales, in order to comparing results across catchments. These signatures will focus on water storage and age.
- (contingent on the progress made) apply and evaluate another model, which is based on a parsimonious description of processes (Hs1D - Marçais et al., submitted), in order to compute water ages on equivalent hillslopes in the catchments chosen above, and evaluate the complementarity of this approach with EcH2O-iso ;
- dissemination of the results obtained, including a journal article


- Knowledge of hydrological processes and how they are described in models (preferably with a process-based approach).
- Proven ability to use a distributed (or semi-distributed), process-based hydrological model, and to quickly learn to use a similar modelling tool.
- Knowledge in automated data analysis, basic statistics, water budgets, model calibration and evaluation.
- Capacity and motivation to work in the pluridisciplinary context of the critical zone
- Some background in geochemistry is a plus
- Ability to listen, and to work as a team player
- Oral communication and article writing

Work Context

The OZCAR Research Infrastructure (RI) (Critical Zone Observatories Networks – Applications and Research, brings together observatories from scientific communities interested in the different compartments of the critical zone: hydrology, hydrogeology, glaciology, climatology, hydrometeorology. As such, it gathers together several hundred researchers, engineers and technicians working on highly instrumented sites. Modelling provides a framework for the use and consistency of the data acquired and allows field-based knowledge to be extended beyond the instrumented sites alone. It also provides a framework for interdisciplinary research and the coupling of different processes, often studied independently by different disciplines. It can also allow comparative studies between instrumented sites in different hydroclimatic and geological contexts.

OZCAR RI is led by J. Gaillardet (IPGP) and I. Braud (INRAE Lyon). Your work will contribute to the WP2 “Interface data – models” of OZCAR RI, led by S. Anquetin (CNRS, IGE Grenoble) and F. Habets (CNRS, ENS Paris). S. Kuppel (OZCAR RI then IRD/GET Toulouse) carried out the first postdoctoral work dedicated to modeling the critical zone across several observatories belonging to OZCAR RI. You will be in close collaboration with these five people.

Constraints and risks

This position will be based in Lyon (INRAE, RiverLy research unit), and will involve regular travels within France to meet with the research teams associated to the observatories, and for field visits.