PhD: Statistics and Processes of Global Precipitation

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job Description

Extreme precipitation leading to floods causes enormous damages worldwide, and this is expected to increase dramatically in the future. Civil engineers use extreme value statistics to derive design storms, but this method is under pressure because of changing environments and changing climates. In order to know how these trends evolve into the future, one approach is to look at the scaling of extreme precipitation with temperature. There is great debate, however, if this can simply be extrapolated into the future. Another way to study future extreme precipitation and floods is to rely on climate model predictions. However, these come with great uncertainty and need to be bias-corrected in order to be useful for practical purposes.

In this PhD research, you will look at the moisture sources of extreme precipitation and floods worldwide (adapting an existing moisture tracking model). The moisture sources can be used as a tool to obtain better predictions of future extremes:

  • Different moisture sources for extreme precipitation are also related to different pre-extreme conditions, which have been shown to yield very different floods for the same precipitation amount.
  • Climate models can be validated and bias-corrected for producing the right moisture sources for the right extremes.


A successful candidate requires a master’s degree in hydrology, water resources, meteorology, or a related field with a strong focus on modelling and data analysis skills. The PhD student should be prepared and motivated to explore different areas and acquire knowledge and skills outside his or her main field. The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on the following:

  • Passion and persistence for doing research
  • Ability to think and work independently
  • Affinity with modelling, statistics and data analysis
  • Programming skills (e.g., Python, MATLAB, R)
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Enthusiasm to engage with both the academic community as well as the broader public

Conditions of employment

The TU Delft offers an attractive, customisable compensation and benefits package, including a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers day care, before- and after-school care and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Ruud van der Ent, e-mail: [email protected] or Prof. Nick van de Giesen, phone: +31 (0)15-2787180, e-mail: [email protected]

To apply, please include in your application: 

  • Short motivation letter (maximum 1.5 pages) covering your research interests and relevant experience 
  • Curriculum Vitae, including list of publications (if any) and name, email address and telephone number of 1-2 references 
  • Copies of academic qualifications 
  • List of courses taken and grades obtained 
  • Copy of master thesis (or another relevant document if not yet available). 
  • Please e-mail your application by 1 March 2018 to Barbara Tabak, [email protected] When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number CITG18-01.