Applied Climate Scientist

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Cali, , CO

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture ( works to reduce hunger and poverty, and improve human nutrition in the tropics through research aimed at increasing the eco-efficiency of agriculture. CIAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium (, a global research partnership working many partners for a food secure future. The Center’s research focuses on increasing productivity of key crops (cassava, common bean, rice, and tropical forages); reversing soil and land degradation; and using information to foster better decisions about issues such as climate change and environmental management. Headquartered near Cali, Colombia, CIAT has regional offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hanoi, Vietnam, with staff posted in other developing countries as well.

The DAPA group is a growing research area of CIAT that works towards CIAT’s mission of eco-efficient agriculture for the tropics by ensuring improved decision making by a range of stakeholders on the themes of climate change, linking farmers to markets and ecosystem services. See for more details on DAPA.

We are looking for a climate scientist with special emphasis on seasonal climate forecasting for agricultural applications. This person will lead research and operational activities related to seasonal agro-climatic forecasting in Colombia and other Central and South American countries at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Decision and Policy Analysis division. Specific projects where substantial contribution is expected include the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) funded “Tailored agro-climatic services for decision making”, any activities related to the Partnership between CIAT and the Ministry of Agriculture of Colombia, as well as the USAID-funded Climate Services project in Colombia.


  • Provide intellectual leadership in the area of seasonal climate forecasting for Colombia and other Latin American countries, with the specific tasks to improve their performance for agricultural applications, and clearly evaluate and communicate that performance to end-users. Incorporate enhanced physical understanding of regional climate dynamics into the models. Investigate how to appropriately translate forecast information into useful products for agricultural applications. Publish results in peer-reviewed literature.
  • Identify current limitations and knowledge gaps in ongoing climate forecasting projects for the areas under study, and develop and implement methods to address these.
  • Coordinate research activities of about 5-7 researchers working with weather data, climate model output, and seasonal climate forecasting tools and models.
  • Ensure that the automation of operational processes is in place to update weather data, generate forecasts, and update evaluation metrics on a monthly basis. Help communicate evaluation metrics, methodological limitations and research needs to internal and external users of the information in an understandable manner.
  • Interface with meteorological agencies in Colombia and other partner countries in Latin America to share best practices, and maintain and develop relationships with other research institutions working on seasonal climate forecasting in the region (e.g. Columbia University International Research Institute for Climate & Society and climate modeling institutions, e.g. NOAA-GFDL). Help to strengthen CIAT’s connection with the Observatorio Latinoamericano de Eventos Extraordinarios (OLE2).
  • Build strong links with other CIAT and CIAT-DAPA research teams to enhance the potential for the use of forecasts in a variety of contexts and agricultural production systems.
  • Write and/or participate in fund-raising activities to develop a funding stream at CIAT for basic and applied science research in seasonal climate forecasting in the Andean region.

Technical Competencies

  • Ph.D. in climate science (atmospheric science, oceanography, meteorology or related fields), focusing on atmosphere-ocean circulation dynamics and sources of inter-annual and decadal climate variability.
  • Minimum 2-3 years of experience with seasonal climate forecasting, global and/ or regional climate models and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon
  • Experience in the practical applications of forecasts is desirable
  • Demonstrated knowledge of statistical methods in atmospheric sciences
  • Some experience managing research teams
  • Desirable: particular knowledge of climate dynamics in the Andean region of South America
  • Desirable: experience in or exposure to agricultural meteorology and climate impacts modeling (agriculture, hydrology); familiarity with agricultural sciences
  • Desirable: familiarity with climate model downscaling and bias-correction methodologies
  • Desirable: written and verbal communication skills in Spanish

Role Competencies

  • Dealing with ambiguity/ complexity
  • Ability to motivate others
  • Scientific communication skills: ability to break down complex scientific subjects
  • Process Management

Terms of employment

The position is internationally recruited. The contract in the Scientist category will be for two (2) years subject to a probation period of six (6) months, and is renewable depending on performance and availability of resources. This person will report directly to the DAPA Research Area Director and to the Modeling Scientists in the projects in question. CIAT offers a multicultural, collegial research environment with competitive salary and excellent benefits; we believe that the diversity of our staff contributes to excellence. CIAT is an equal opportunity employer, and strives for staff diversity in gender and nationality.