PhD Research Fellow in global snow depths from remote sensing and modeling

Oslo, Norway
Posted 3 years ago
  • Organization: University of Oslo
  • Deadline: 31st October 2021
  • Department: Department of Geosciences
  • Faculty: The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Languages: English
  • Location: Oslo, Norway

About the position

A 3-year position as PhD Research Fellow in applied snow remote sensing and modeling is available in the project SNOWDEPTH at the Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo.

The preferred start date for the position is January 2022. The fellowship will be for a period of 3 years for research towards a PhD degree. Pending on a separate application for those accepted into the PhD program, the contract period may be extended by the equivalent of maximum 1 year to include teaching obligations (25% per year). Candidates should indicate their interest in and experience with teaching in their applications for this fellowship.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

SNOWDEPTH – “Global snow depths from spaceborne remote sensing for permafrost, high-elevation precipitation, and climate reanalyses” is a Young Researcher project funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN). SNOWDEPTH will develop novel methods to measure snow depth profiles from satellite data and generate global snow depth maps using complementary data and models with data assimilation methods. The project has a special focus on applications of spaceborne snow depth data. Together with partners in Switzerland and Norway, we will use the snow depth data to improve permafrost modelling, increase understanding of high-altitude precipitation, and assess the potential to improve climate reanalyses in data-sparse regions. The project leader and supervisor of the PhD is Désirée Treichler (

Job Description

The project has a data processing and an application part. During part I, the successful candidate will work with remote sensing data from the laser satellite ICESat-2, data from digital elevation models (DEMs) as well as optical and microwave satellite data to retrieve global snow depth measurements. To generate time series of snow depth maps, the candidate will use the snow depth data together with a snow model and climate data within an ensemble-based data assimilation scheme.
Part two of the project focuses on applications. The candidate is expected to analyse the novel snow depth data at local and/or global scale with a particular focus on mountainous and/or vegetated areas. The primary application areas of the project are permafrost modelling, high-altitude precipitation, and climate reanalyses, where snow depth measurements have a strong potential to advance science. One particular project goal the PhD candidate may work with is to integrate the global snow depth data into the CryoGrid permafrost model (

The candidate will also take part in field work in mountainous terrain and conduct own snow measurements to validate the satellite-derived snow depth data. Field work focusing on permafrost and high-elevation snow precipitation is anticipated at established snow/permafrost research sites in Norway and Central Asia. The project has external partners at the University of Fribourg and WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Switzerland, and the Norwegian Institute for Air Research NILU. Excellence and independent scientific thinking will be the main selection criteria. Scientific publications in international journals are expected as part of the PhD thesis.

Qualification requirements

The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences has a strategic ambition to be among Europe’s leading communities for research, education and innovation. Candidates for these fellowships will be selected in accordance with this, and expected to be in the upper segment of their class with respect to academic credentials.

  • Applicants must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent Geosciences, Geomatics, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Sciences, or similar master programs
  • Foreign completed degree (M.Sc.-level) corresponding to a minimum of four years in the Norwegian educational system

The successful candidate should have a strong background in handling of remote sensing data or other large datasets. Previous experience with data assimilation and numerical modeling will be regarded positive in the selection process. Previous experience with one or several of the following topics is beneficial:
1. snow remote sensing
2. snow process modelling
3. climate reanalysis
4. high-performance computing and big data analysis

Finally, experience on scientific publishing and field work in high-mountain/permafrost environments is regarded as beneficial.

The successful candidate must further demonstrate:

  • Technical expertise and proven programming skills in MATLAB, Python, C, julia and/or FORTRAN.
  • Evidence of creativity and capability of independent research.
  • Ability and willingness to participate in field work in Norway and Central Asia for periods of up to several weeks, in parts in rugged high-alpine terrain

Grade requirements:

The norm is as follows:

  • the average grade point for courses included in the Bachelor’s degree must be C or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • the average grade point for courses included in the Master’s degree must be B or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • the Master’s thesis must have the grade B or better in the Norwegian educational system
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English
  • English requirements for applicants from outside of EU/ EEA countries

The purpose of the fellowship is research training leading to the successful completion of a PhD degree.

The fellowship requires admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The application to the PhD programme must be submitted to the department no later than two months after taking up the position. For more information see:

Personal skills

Applications are encouraged from dedicated candidates with excellent writing skills and the ability to work in a highly team-orientated environment.

We offer

  • Salary NOK 491 200 – 534 40 per annum depending on qualifications and seniority as PhD Research Fellow (position code 1017)
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement
  • Vibrant international academic environment
  • Career development programmes
  • Oslo’s family-friendly surroundings with their rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include:

  • Cover letter – statement of motivation and research interests
  • CV (summarizing education, positions and academic experience, scientific publications etc)
  • Copies of the original Bachelor and Master’s degree diploma, transcripts of records
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • List of publications and academic work that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee
  • Names and contact details of 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number)

The Department of Geosciences offers the opportunity for financing an additional year used for teaching duties (distributed over a 4 years period). If interested, the candidate should also provide documentation of teaching experience and a statement of motivation to perform teaching duties.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system, please follow the link “apply for this job”. Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University’s grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

Applicants may be called in for an interview.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

The University of Oslo aims to achieve a balanced gender composition in the workforce and to recruit people with ethnic minority backgrounds.

Contact information

For further information please contact: Désirée Treichler, phone: +47 228 57 869, e-mail: [email protected]

For questions regarding the recruitment system, please contact HR Adviser Torunn Standal Guttormsen, phone:+47 22854272,
e-mail: [email protected]

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