PhD position (Future risks of debris flows and floods in high mountain Asia (1.0 FTE)

Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands 🇳🇱


We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate interested in climate change and natural hazards in mountains. You will be working on a project that aims to assess the impact of climate change on debris flow and flood risk in high mountain Asia. The project aim is to investigate triggering mechanisms of debris flows and floods, assess climate change impacts on the frequency and magnitude and perform a risk analysis of cascading hazards at river basin scale. In this inter-disciplinary project you will combine novel field observations with unpiloted airborne vehicles and weather stations to study site specific triggering mechanisms such as landslides, freeze-thaw cycles and extreme precipitation. Satellite imagery will be used to create inventories of historical landslides and debris flows for different alpine catchments. These observations will be integrated in a basin scale model that includes landslides, debris flows and floods in addition to the hydrology. In a final step we will design scenarios of future climate change and exposure of communities and infrastructure to assess changes in future risks of debris flows and floods. You will be supported and supervised by a team of experienced and enthusiastic scientists in the field of natural hazard research, remote sensing and modelling.


You have a MSc degree in a relevant area, such as physical geography, hydrology, environmental engineering, earth surface dynamics or a closely related field. You have a sound affinity with quantitative methods rooted in data-science, remote sensing and/or numerical modelling. You are passionate about mountain hazards and extreme environments and you are willing and capable of undertaking fieldwork in sometimes challenging circumstances. You are able to demonstrate English language proficiency.


You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,395 in the first year and €3,061 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Department of Physical Geography excels in research and education on BSc, MSc and PhD level. Our research focuses on processes, patterns and dynamics of Earth’s continental and coastal systems, and on the interaction between these processes. This knowledge is essential for the sustainable management of our planet and to guarantee the availability of resources for the next generations. The department hosts an active, supportive and informal PhD community of about 40 people working on a wide variety of topics. The mountain hydrology group focuses on the fundamental understanding of the high-altitude water cycle, mountain related natural hazards and extremes and socio-economical upstream-downstream linkages.

Aanvullende informatie

For more information about this position, please contact:
Walter Immerzeel (Professor of Mountain Hydrology), via [email protected]


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button below. Applications should include the names of at least two referees (including e-mail addresses and phone numbers).

Interviews will be planned in September. Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews may be subject to change.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

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