PhD candidate: Numerical modelling of river-ice break-up, run-off, jamming and consequent flooding

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Trondheim, , NO

We have a vacancy for a PhD position at The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

An evident sign of climate changes is our observations of increased instability in the climate. We observe increased frequency of extreme weather events and at the same time more fluctuations of air temperature around zero degree in a typical winter. One of the consequences for this is the increased instability of ice cover in rivers. The fluctuations in air temperature around zero alter the mechanical properties of the ice and may increase the discharge in rivers due to snow melt and rain which in turn can increase the potential of ice breakup, run-off and ice jamming in rivers. Break-up of cold (strong) ice creates engineering challenges related to infrastructure operation in rivers. 

This winter as an example, the Tana river has already experienced two ice runs so far. The drifting ice mass in rivers will exert additional and sometimes extreme forces on structures and infrastructure in and along the rivers which may cause structural damage. Not only that, but also flooding may occur due to ice accumulation and jamming which may threaten urban and agriculture areas. This PhD study investigates the phenomena of river-ice break-up, run-off, jamming and consequent flooding through numerical modelling.

You will report to associate professor.

Duties of the position

  • The objective of this PhD study is to develop and validate a numerical model that allow for prediction of river ice break-up and corresponding ice runs. 
  • The Simulator for Arctic Marine Structures (SAMS) is the state-of-the-art discrete element model for sea-ice dynamics and it is developed based on extensive research conducted at NTNU in the period from 2011 to 2019 where NTNU was the host of the Centre for Research-based Innovation (CRI): Sustainable Arctic Marine and Coastal Technology (SAMCoT). This PhD study will investigate the possibility to couple SAMS with a software package dedicated for river hydraulics to allow for the differences in driving forces and boundary conditions in rivers compared to the sea environment. This is expected to yield a unique solution to simulate ice break-up, run-off, jamming and consequent flooding. The desired solution is generic, and it should cover different types of rivers. This is a big improvement to existing solutions that are only valid for much larger and less steep rivers. 
  • To validate the developed numerical model, the PhD study will use best available data. Currently, data on ice runs in river Sokna and river Gaula do exist at NTNU and the data will be made available to this study. Efforts to collect more data (full-scale or model-scale) during this PhD study period will also be encouraged.

This PhD study is nicely aligned with the strategic research area of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NTNU “Infrastructure in a cold changing climate”. It is also aligned with the EU Mission “Starfish 2030: Restore our oceans and waters” that strives for an operational digital twin of European oceans and waters. As many of Europe’s oceans and waters are seasonally covered by ice, this goal cannot be reached without significant improvements in our ability to model ice river.

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position’s main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Marine Civil Engineering or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Other required selection criteria

  • Good communication skills in English, both spoken and written are required

Preferred selection criteria

  • Good background in applied mathematics, physics, hydrodynamics, river hydraulics, marine civil engineering, or mechanics, with good programming and analytical skills
  • Arctic offshore / cold climate related knowledge and experience are helpful

Personal characteristics

  • The candidate should have the ability to work both independently and as part of a strong team
  • The candidate is expected to be self-motivated and to publish the project results in international peer-reviewed journals

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Marine Civil Engineering within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Research plan or project proposal
  • Academic works – published or unpublished – that you would like to be considered in the assessment (up to 5 works)
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – DORA.