PhD: Physical Geography (Radar Remote Sensing and Modelling of Snow)

Stockholm University

Stockholm, Sweden 🇸🇪


The Department of Physical Geography is one of the major departments within the Faculty of Science. The department has approximately 135 employees and educates approximately 1 000 students annually. Education is oriented towards geography, geosciences, biology-earth sciences, and environmental management. The main research areas are: Biogeography and Geomatics, Climate science and quaternary geology, Environment, resource dynamics and management, Geomorphology and glaciology, and Hydrology, Water resources and permafrost.

Project description: 

The research will apply coupled snowpack and scattering models to investigate multi-frequency synthetic aperture radar observations of snowpack properties across northern Scandinavia towards the retrieval of snowpack properties from spaceborne SAR data. Globally, seasonal snow cover extends 46 M km2 annually. Deviation from long-term norms brings challenges for nature and society. For society this means adapting or managing infrastructure such as hydropower facilities (where reservoir capacity planning must adapt to new flow regimes), road and rail infrastructure (ensuring higher river discharges do not damage bridges, embankments or flood carriageways), and maintaining adequate monitoring capacity (of, for example, river discharge, snowpack storage and melt rates). This research aims to evaluate multi-frequency SAR datasets towards algorithms for the retrieval of snowpack properties, addressing the challenges identified by NASA and ESA. The project will explore the capabilities of synthetic aperture radar data and coupled snowpack and scattering models to improve our ability to monitor water storage in northern high latitude snowpacks. The research will be performed at multiple sites across northern Sweden and Norway. It will improve our understanding of snowpack processes affecting Earth Observation (EO) datasets in the microwave region and derive algorithms to better quantify snowpack properties using sustainable EO in line with ESA future challenges. Seasonal snow is a fundamental element of the national environmental goal of a Magnificent Mountain Landscape, supports hydropower helping Sweden meet national and international environmental goals (such as commitments to renewable energy and limitations on greenhouse gas emissions).

Candidate requirements:

  • In order to meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere. 
  • In order to meet the specific entry requirements, and to fulfil the general syllabus for doctoral studies in the field of physical geography, the candidate for this position should have acquired a total of 240 higher education credits (of which at least 60 at advanced level), or acquired in some alternative fashion, the equivalent knowledge in geoscience, environmental science or other relevant natural or engineering science.
  • Research field: Geosciences 
  • Years of research experience: 1 – 4years
  • Required education level: Geosciences: master degree or equivalent
  • Required languages: English


  • The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their capacity to benefit from the training. The following criteria will be used to assess this capacity:
  • The candidates’ documented knowledge in a relevant field of research,
  • Written and oral proficiency in English,
  • The capacity for analytical thinking,
  • The ability to collaborate, as well as creativity, initiative, and independence.
  • The assessment will be based on previous experience and grades, the quality of the degree project, references, relevant experience, interviews, and the candidate’s written motivation for seeking the position.

Terms of employment:

  • Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship.
  • The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.
  • Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.  
  • Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed. 
  • Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all. 


Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system by clicking the “Apply” button. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.