Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes

European Space Agency (ESA)

Hartwell, United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) on Exploiting Earth Observation for Climate Research

This post is classified F2.

ECSAT, Harwell, United Kingdom

Our team and mission

The overall goal of the ESA Climate Office is to expand awareness, use and scientific impact of Earth Observation (EO) data records, especially from ESA satellites, by working with the international climate research and modelling communities.

This is achieved through the following lines of activities:

  • Implementation of the Climate Change Initiative programme (CCI)(, that aims to develop a lasting and structured dialogue with climate research and modelling communities worldwide, analysing their needs for long-term satellite-based observations of the climate system, as expressed via the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and assessing their feedback on available EO data records;
  • Translating these needs into technical performance specifications for Fundamental Climate Data Records (FCDR) and Essential Climate Variables (ECV) based on the complete ESA EO satellite archives, taking due care to account for the nature of different satellites;
  • Initiating and managing a suite of scientific analyses, data exploitation and system development activities to enhance ESA’s capability to generate these records for climate research, modelling, attribution, projection, prediction, trend assessment, and data assimilation, as well as validation of the data sets with the corresponding scientific users.
  • Exploiting the records generated through CCI to improve understanding of key science questions e.g. those identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 Assessment Report (AR5, 2013) and those identified through the GCOS Implementation Plan (GCOS-200).

Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activities/research

In the framework of the above the selected candidate could choose to be involved in various activities depending on their previous research experience. For this opportunity, the suggested topics for potential research fellows are:

  • Developing activities common to a subset of climate projects, climate domains (Atmospheric, Land and Ocean) and their interfaces.
  • Working with products from the various projects within the CCI portfolio (see focusing in particular on addressing key climate science questions (e.g. those posed by IPCC). This should concentrate on a combination of ECVs delivered by established and new CCI projects.
  • Working to support cross cutting activities such as data harmonisation, product consistency assessment, uncertainty characterisation. This can involve both CCI products and those outside ESA.
  • Working on the derivation of Climate Indicators, as identified by GCOS, and their development and promotion for an informed general public.

    We encourage a wide range of proposals and can be reasonably flexible in what subjects can be covered. However, preference will be given to work involving ECVs delivered by projects managed directly by the ESA Climate Office[1].

[1] Aerosol, Cloud, Sea Ice, Soil Moisture, Fire, Glaciers, Land Surface Temperature, Lakes, Snow, Water Vapour

Technical competencies

Knowledge relevant to the field of research

Research/publication record

Ability to conduct research autonomously

Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities

Interest in space and space research

Ability to gather and share relevant information

Behavioural competencies

Innovation & Creativity

Continuous Learning


Relationship Management

Self Motivation

Problem Solving

Cross-Cultural Sensitivity


Applicants should have recently completed, or be close to completion of a PhD in a related technical or scientific discipline.  In particular for this position, Applicants should be early career researchers and must have completed their PhD (or equivalent studies) in a subject relevant to the work done by the ESA Climate Office, i.e. climatology, meteorology, hydrology or environmental sciences.

Additional requirements

Familiarity with and/or experience in one or more of the following subjects is preferable:

  • climate science in relation to satellite-based Earth Observation,
  • handling large data volumes preferably those derived from satellite sensors.
  • data harmonisation, visualisation, model intercomparison or data assimilation

Applicants should have good analytical and communication skills and should be able to work in a multicultural environment in a fairly autonomous manner.

The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.   

Preference  will  be  given  to applications submitted by candidates within  five  years of receiving their PhD.

Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.

The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.

The closing date for applications is 11 June 2018.

In addition to your CV and your motivation letter, please add your proposal of no more than 5 pages outlining your proposed research in the “additional documents” field of the “application information” section. Candidates are asked to arrange for 3 reference letters, to be sent by the referees themselves, before the closing date to [email protected] Please ensure your name is mentioned in the subject of the e-mail.
If you require support with your application due to a disability, please email [email protected].


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada and Slovenia as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia as European Cooperating States (ECS).

 Priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented Member States.

In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment