PhD Position in Numerical Modelling of Icebergs Drift and Deterioration in the Barents Sea

Trondheim, Norway
Mar 04, 2021
End of advertisement period
Apr 15, 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) are strengthening their collaboration within Arctic/Polar technology. NTNU and DTU are are looking for PhD candidate on the topic - numerical modelling of icebergs drift and deterioration in the Barents Sea. The PhD candidate will follow a joint NTNU-DTU PhD programme to qualify for a joint PhD degree from both universities. The candidate home institute will be the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NTNU. The candidate will have part-time stay at DTU. 

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD position at The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The uncertainty in estimation of the southward extent of icebergs in the Barents Sea threatens a low-risk exploitation of hydrocarbons in these waters and may endanger activities like fishing, transit, tourist traffic, and seabed mining. The presence of icebergs in the vicinity of offshore structures greatly influences design concepts both with respect to technical and economical feasibility. It is therefore important to determine the probability of iceberg intrusions into the areas of interest and to determine the characteristics of icebergs in these areas (i.e., size/mass, shape, drift speed). Currently, the ice charts produced by the Ice Service of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute lack any information about icebergs or multi-year ice features. These charts provide the basis for assessment of navigational risks in the Norwegian icy waters according to the procedures by the international maritime organization (IMO). The lack of iceberg information can result in erroneous risk estimation leading to potentially dangerous decisions in the iceberg prone waters. 

Icebergs in the Barents Sea are produced from glaciers with marine terminus bordering the area. The number, size and shape of the produced icebergs, in addition to, the  spatial and temporal distributions of their release depend on the mass balance of the glacier, on whether the glacier front is grounded or afloat, on the water depth fronting the ice cliff, and on the presence of landfast sea ice at the terminus of the glacier. The produced icebergs drift into the Barents Sea due to wind, wave, current, and sea ice forces. During their drift, the icebergs deteriorate (i.e., lose mass and change shape) due to heat influx from air and water. Climate changes are expected to have strong effects on the amount and southward extent of icebergs in the Barents Sea since the metocean conditions that cause icebergs drift and deterioration are changing. In addition, the temporal release of icebergs and their characteristics at the sources are also expected to change as the sea ice cover is shrinking and the seawater temperatures are increasing.

Measurements are an excellent way to obtain information about the iceberg conditions in the Barents Sea. In-situ measurements provide accurate and high-resolution data, but they are costly, logistically demanding, and typically sparse and only feasible for a short amount of time. Satellite remote sensing observations have a much more extensive and continuous coverage of the Arctic, but the acquired resolution is generally lower in comparison to in-situ measurements. For that reason, remote sensing observations are typically validated with in-situ measurements (ground truthing). Despite the vast and continuous coverage of satellites, this technology still leaves temporal and spatial gaps in the data. One way to fill in these gaps is through numerical modelling. Carefully calibrated and validated models provide additional information and allow us to look beyond observations. Moreover, models allow for study of potential effects due to changing boundary conditions, for instance, due to climate change.

You will report to supervising Associate Professor.

Duties of the position

  • The objective of this PhD study is to develop and validate a numerical model for the assessment of iceberg intrusion probability into central parts of the Barents Sea and to determine the characteristics of icebergs in these areas (i.e., size/mass, shape, drift speed). This includes: 1) Studies of iceberg release rates and size and shape distributions from the major iceberg sources in the Barents Sea, 2) development of a numerical iceberg drift and deterioration model for assessment of iceberg intrusion and characteristics in the Central parts of the Barents Sea.
  • The validation of the models will be based on high quality data from the extensive field campaigns of ICEBASE (1987) and IDAP (1988-92) combined with hindcast data. Satellite remote-sensing data especially Sentinel-2 optical imagery from the major iceberg sources in the Barents Sea will be used in the calibration studies. Further, high resolution physics-based models can also be used to calibrate the empirical formulas in the developed model.  

This PhD study is nicely aligned with the strategic research area of NTNU and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NTNU (Oceans, digitalization, Infrastructure in a cold changing climate, etc.). It is also aligned with the EU Mission “Starfish 2030: Restore our oceans and waters” that strives for an operational digital twin of European oceans and waters.

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in Marine Civil Engineering or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Other required selection criteria

  • Good communication skills in English, both spoken and written are required

Preferred selection criteria

  • Good background in applied mathematics, physics, hydrodynamics, marine civil engineering, or mechanics, with good programming and analytical skills
  • Arctic offshore / cold climate related knowledge and experience are helpfull

Personal characteristics

  • You should have the ability to work both independently and as part of a strong team
  • You are expected to be self-motivated and to publish the project results in international peer-reviewed journals

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Marine Civil Engineering within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Research plan or project proposal
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment (up to 5 works)
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact professor Sveinung Løset, telephone +47 73594629, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Hege Johansen, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number IV-79/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 15.04.2021

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

We conduct research and teaching in civil and transportation engineering, technical planning, structural engineering, water and wastewater engineering and hydraulic engineering. Graduates from our programmes become employees – in both the public and private sectors – with a sustainability mindset combined with competitive knowledge and skills. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 15th April 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service

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