PhD Position in University of Gothenburg Sweden

PhD Student Position in Physical Sciences, specializing in Physical Geography – University of Gothenburg, May 2022


The University of Gothenburg invites applications for a Ph.D. student position that must have a background in remote sensing theory and data analysis, the Department of Earth Sciences, Sweden – May 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD Position
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: ,
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: Sep 01, 2022
Contract Period: 1 Year
Salary: According to standard norms

Department of Earth Sciences

University of Gothenburg, Sweden


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Qualification Details


Education at third-cycle level requires general eligibility and, where appropriate, specific eligibility as set out in the general syllabus for the subject.

The general eligibility requirements for education at third-cycle level are:   

  1. having completed a degree at second-cycle level, or- the fulfilment of course requirements totaling at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits must be at second-cycle level, or
  2. the acquisition of equivalent knowledge in some other way, either in Sweden or abroad.

To meet the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies, applicants must:

  1. have a second-cycle (advanced-level) degree in a relevant* subject area in the natural sciences, or
  2. have completed studies for at least 60 higher education credits at a second-cycle level in relevant* subject areas in the natural sciences, or
  3. have completed a corresponding programme of relevance to the planned third-cycle programme, in Sweden or in another country, or have equivalent qualifications.

*Relevant subjects for the planned education is physical geography or a closely related field (e.g., geography, environmental science, geology) if these include substantial components of physical geography.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria will be applied in selection among applicants:

  • merits from basic education
  • credentials from the advanced level education claimed in special qualifications
  • the relevance of the previous education for the planned education at postgraduate level
  • assessment of the applicant's ability to assimilate postgraduate education
  • where applicable, assessment of the applicant's ability to work within a research group

The assessment of candidates will further be based on the following essential and advantageous attributes:

Essential attributes:

  • Completed university course(s) or equivalent experience that included remote sensing theory and analysis of remote sensing data
  • Good knowledge of quantitative methods
  • Good ability to communicate orally and in writing in English
  • Works well independently as well as within a group
  • Interest and opportunity to perform field work in northern Sweden during the summer and winter

Advantageous attributes:

  • Experience of LiDAR data processing and analysis, photogrammetry, and satellite image analysis
  • Completed university course(s) which included geographic information systems, climate and climate data analysis, ecosystem studies, or geology
  • Experience flying drones or willingness to learn
  • Knowledge of scripting/programming
  • Ability to read and communicate in Swedish (or willingness to learn)
  • Interest in permafrost processes

Responsibilities/Job Description

Project description 

Palsa mires are a habitat type consisting of raised mounds or plateaus of peat with a permafrost core that form primarily in the sporadic permafrost regions of the subarctic. Climate change has led to thawing of permafrost in palsa mires around the Arctic. Around 2000 ha of palsa mires currently exist in Sweden, but high rates of thaw are predicted to lead to the disappearance of palsa mires in Sweden by 2100. As the palsas thaw and degrade, greenhouse gas emissions increase, and habitat for plants and animals is radically changed.

This PhD project has the aim to better understand permafrost thaw processes of palsa mires through detailed study of a palsa mire in northern Sweden called Vissátvuopmi. It is a multi-disciplinary project that will combine remote sensing, climate data analysis, ice microstructure analysis, and greenhouse gas flux measurements with the aim to gain deeper understanding of palsa dynamics and their relationship to environmental factors and climatic drivers. To investigate these relationships, the PhD candidate will use drones equipped with LiDAR and other sensors to map the palsas’ exterior; the palsas’ interior will be investigated using ice microstructure analysis and ground penetrating radar; climatic drivers and environmental influences affecting palsa mires will be analysed together with data on palsa change; and greenhouse gas fluxes will be measured and related to the palsa mire environment.

The student will be placed at the Department of Earth Sciences, and supported by a multi-disciplinary supervisory team who routinely works together to study this topic. This PhD position is one of two being financed by the Department as part of its strategic work to promote cross-disciplinary research within the Department of Earth Sciences. The PhD student’s specific research questions and approaches will be developed in collaboration with the supervisory team during the project.


The main task is to conduct the PhD thesis work under supervision, which includes development of the PhD student’s methodological experience, analytical skills, as well as theoretical depth and breadth. The studies will include field work, lab work, and computer-based analysis.

A range of tools and techniques will be used in this project. The successful candidate must have a background in remote sensing theory and data analysis. Experience in other techniques needed for this study is meritorious, although training will be provided and the student should be active and willing to learn these new skills.

Specific research topics, tools and techniques that may be used in the research project include:

  • Permafrost dynamics in a palsa mire, and understanding these dynamics in relation to environmental factors and climatic drivers
  • Remote sensing data collection, processing, and analysis from e.g., drones equipped with LiDAR and cameras, airborne LiDAR scanning, radar satellites, and optical satellites
  • Climate data analysis using data from nearby weather stations and field instruments
  • Ice microstructure analysis in the lab
  • Greenhouse gas flux measurements in the field
  • Geospatial data analysis including GIS and machine learning
  • Mathematical analysis of collected data to quantitatively describe ecosystem and permafrost processes

Education at third-cycle level comprises four years of full-time study, and leads to a doctoral degree in Natural Science, specializing in Physical Geography.

Within the framework of your doctoral student employment, you may have departmental duties corresponding to up to 20 % of full-time employment, distributed throughout your study period. Departmental duties usually consist of teaching at first- and second-cycle levels, but may also include administration.

How to Apply?

Application Method: Online Application
Ref. No.: PAR 2022/586

Application Procedure

Submit your application via the University of Gothenburg’s recruitment portal by clicking the “Apply” button. It is your responsibility to ensure that the application is complete as per the vacancy notice, and that the University receives it by the final application deadline.

The application should preferably be written in English and must include:

  • A short cover letter with the applicant’s justification for the application, i.e., that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
  • An attested list of qualifications (CV)
  • Examination certificates and a transcript of courses with grades
  • A copy of the Master thesis (or equivalent)
  • Employments certificates and other documents deemed important by the applicant

Along with the application, write and attach also a description of why you want to work on this project at this department (1-2 pages).

The top ranked candidates will be selected for an interview, which might be held in English and could also be performed by Zoom.

About the Department

At the Department of Earth Sciences, we have ca 75 employees (14 are PhD students) who work in the fields of Physical Geography and Geology. We have specializations in regional climate, polar climate, paleoclimate, urban climate, biogeochemistry, alpine and polar ecology, GIS and remote sensing, hydrogeology, geophysics, quaternary geology, and micro-geochemistry. Our three priority research themes are "Climate and Climate Change", "Earth Surface Processes" and "The Geosphere". The Department is well-equipped with a unique Ice Lab, several DJI drones, and biogeochemical analysis labs.

Our mission is to develop and deliver research, education, and services to society that improve our understanding of how the Earth System functions and the impact of human actions in particular. Our department works to achieve diversity in the workplace and to create a family-friendly environment, and in addition, Sweden has generous family leave and childcare policies. Further information is available on our website:

General information about being a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg can be found on the university's doctoral student pages.

About the Employer:

Note or Other details


Once you have been admitted for education at third-cycle level, you will be employed as a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg. The provisions for employment as a doctoral student can be found in ordinance SFS 1993:100.

Initial employment as a doctoral student may apply for a maximum of one year, and may be renewed by a maximum of two years at a time. A doctoral student may be employed as a doctoral student for a maximum of eight years, but the total period of employment may not be longer than the equivalent of full-time education at third-cycle level for four years.

Location: Department of Earth Sciences. Extent:100%. First day of employment: 2022-09-01 or upon agreement.

The University applies a local agreement on salaries for doctoral students.

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Contact details

If you have any questions about the position, please contact

Heather Reese (main supervisor), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, [email protected], phone: +46 (0)31 7862803

Roland Barthel (Department head), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, [email protected], +46 (0)31-786 19 53


Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg can be found here:

Information for International Applicants 

Choosing a career in a foreign country is a big step. Thus, to give you a general idea of what we and Gothenburg have to offer in terms of benefits and life in general for you and your family/spouse/partner please visit:

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