Research Scholar in Global Water Resources Modeling, Water Quality

Vienna, Austria 🇦🇹

Vacancy 05/2017 – As part of the Water Futures and Solutions (WFaS) and the Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy, and Land (IS-WEL) initiatives, IIASA’s Water Program (WAT) is offering a position for a postdoc or research scholar in global water resources modeling.

The successful candidate will develop and employ a spatial, macro-scale hydrologic model to assess water quantity and quality, and evaluate the impacts of climate and socio-economic change, and related policies and management options. A key focus of the role will be on developing and improving methods for assessing management options on hydrology at different spatial scales, particularly those associated with managing water scarcity. This involves working with other specialists such as economists, ecologists, hydrologists, modelers, stakeholders and social scientists to explore how linkages can be developed. He or she will also work on integrating a water quality model into a nexus Water-Energy-Food modeling framework, that is also linked to water allocation and economic models. The candidate will use a systems approach in the analysis of water quality, including salinity and eutrophication. This will include site-specific (point source e.g. waste water) as well as regional land based (non-point source e.g. agriculture) components. 


The Water Futures and Solutions (WFaS) Initiative was launched in 2012, as a flagship of IIASA’s new Water Program (WAT), with initial partners including UNESCO, WWC, and IWA. It is beginning a long journey of bringing together and producing the science, tools, and analysis to consistently assess tradeoffs and impacts of management options across scales and sectors. The objective of the initiative is to help identify the portfolios of options that can be robust and sustainable under different bio-physical and socio-economic conditions, across a range of possible futures and associated uncertainties. WAT works with stakeholders to identify priority options and tradeoffs, and build a new generation of integrated, cross-sector global and regional water scenarios. The integrated scenarios from the various sectors will be used as tools to test and assess, with ensembles of models, which sets of options can be implemented today and be robust at improving security and well-being across a range possible futures and associated uncertainties. Since a primary goal of the WFaS Initiative is to assess options consistently across scales of management for the purpose of decision support, consistency in hydrologic analysis from watershed to global scales is of key importance. Thus while the Initiative is focused on globally consistent analysis across sectors and scales, the bio-physical models employed are spatially detailed, and case studies provide further important information on local options and tradeoffs. The WAT program works closely with other IIASA programs and several external partners working with hydrologic and integrated assessment models to perform multi-model ensemble analysis for a better understanding of associated uncertainties.

The Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy, and Land (IS-WEL) project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It will build the foundations of knowledge and capacity for integrated solutions across energy, water, food and ecosystems, that are relevant to all GEF focal areas, particularly Climate Change Mitigation, International Waters, Land Degradation, and Sustainable Forest Management. The project will provide relevant insights to the Sustainable and Resilient Cities Integrated Approach Pilot and the Food Security Integrated Approach Pilot. It also provides vital input for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by assessing tradeoffs and synergies among options to achieve multiple SDGs and suggesting effective strategies. 


  • Assist in developing the WAT Community Water Model (CWatM).
  • Develop a water quality module within CWatM.
  • Assist in the development and analysis of databases of water quality worldwide.
  • Assist in the development of methods for scaling and incorporating policy and management options into macro-scale hydrologic models.
  • Perform statistical analysis of the gridded output of global hydrologic model(s).
  • Publish relevant results of own research in peer-reviewed journals and participate in scientific conferences and workshops.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • PhD degree in hydrology, environmental science, engineering or a related field.
  • Proven analytical skills and ease in manipulating large data sets and complex modeling systems.
  • Experience with both river basin scale and global scale spatial hydrologic models.
  • Strong interest and background in integrative systems analysis and development of tools to support water management decisions.
  • Ability to write reports independently, complying with donor requirements.
  • Programming knowledge and proficiency (PCRaster, Python, Fortran, C/C++, or Java).
  • Experience with geographic information systems (ArcGIS, or QGIS).
  • Fluency in English.

Appointment Terms:

Duties will be carried out at the IIASA premises in Laxenburg, Austria. The successful candidate will initially be offered a one-year employment contract. Following a satisfactory evaluation of the first year’s work, the appointment period can be extended further.

IIASA offers a competitive compensation and benefits package (moving and settlement allowances, educational grants for children of school age, and five weeks’ annual vacation). IIASA salaries are exempt from taxation in the host country of Austria but subject to the principle of income aggregation.

IIASA is committed to a working environment that promotes equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all religious, ethnic and social backgrounds to apply. In the case that candidates are equally qualified, preference will be given to applicants who are nationals of IIASA member countries.


To apply, please email a cover letter (please include the names and contact details of three work-related reference givers), a detailed Curriculum Vitae, and two recent examples of research work to: 

Ms. Alia Harrison, Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources Department,
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
E-mail: [email protected]

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position has been filled. Applications must be submitted no later than the end of June 2017.