PhD Position Unravelling the Physics Controlling the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation F

Climate ScienceFluid Dynamics (Fluid Mechanics)Physical Oceanography
Sep 11, 2023 21:59:00 GMT+00:00
Apply Now
Online Application
Save 0
  • FACULTY/DEPARTMENT- Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences
  • SCIENTIFIC FIELD- Natural sciences
  • HOURS PER WEEK- 32-40
  • SALARY- € 2.541,00 – € 3.247,00
  • DESIRED LEVEL OF EDUCATION- University graduate

Do you have the skills to unravel the physics controlling the AMOC? Using realistic and idealized simulations you will develop a robust framework for interpreting model simulations and observations.

Job description

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports vast amounts of heat to high latitudes, and is largely responsible for Western Europe’s relatively mild climate. Climate models project the AMOC will weaken substantially over the 21st century, which impacts weather, climate, sea level and the oceanic carbon cycle. However, ground-breaking new observations have revealed the limited skills of these climate models in representing key AMOC features, and the underlying lack of in-depth understanding of its physical controls.

Theory and idealized model studies indicate that three processes in concert shape the AMOC in density space: dense water formation in the interior of marginal seas and its subsequent export, dense water formation within the boundary current system of the subpolar gyre, and the exchange of waters with the (sub-)Arctic via overflows. However, their relative importance is unknown and expected to vary by region and over time. The scarce observations available only register the net effect of these three processes, and hence careful analysis of ocean models is imperative to address this knowledge gap.

You will quantify the contributions of the three processes controlling the AMOC in sub regions of the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean from a realistic, state-of-the art model simulation. In addition, you will develop an idealized model suited to systematically explore the AMOC’s sensitivity to oceanic and atmospheric conditions. Guided by the outcomes, you will analyse and interpret AMOC variations seen in the realistic simulation. In all, the project is expected to provide a robust framework to evaluate the skills of models in simulating the AMOC, and to aid the interpretation of observed AMOC variations.

Within the project, you will collaborate with colleagues from Delft University of Technology, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) Texel, and the University of Oxford (UK). Preferred starting date is November/December 2023. 


Essential requirements for the successful candidate are:

  • An MSc degree in Physical Oceanography, Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Climate Physics, Hydraulic Engineering or other relevant discipline.
  • Demonstrable affinity with studying the physics of the large-scale ocean circulation.
  • Strong affinity and preferably experience with numerical modelling and/or the analysis of large datasets.
  • Excellent ability to communicate in English both in speech and in writing.
  • Good organisational skills and ability to work independently and in a team.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof.dr. C.A (Caroline) Katsman, e-mail:

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 11 September 2023 via the application button and upload:

  • your motivation letter;
  • your Curriculum Vitae;
  • your list of grades/transcripts (bachelor and master);
  • contact information of two references;
  • if already available: your master thesis.

Make sure to include relevant examples of projects/experience that demonstrate your skills (and enthusiasm) to fill this position in your motivation letter and/or CV. We also welcome your application if your experience does not fully fit our advert.

Please note:

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.