PhD Research Fellow Focusing on the Glacial-Hydrological Systems in Norwegian and Chinese Mountain

Trondheim, Norway
14 Oct 2021
End of advertisement period
08 Nov 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD research fellow within the field of Physical Geography (glaciology and hydrology branches) at the Department of Geography. The fellowship will be for three years for research towards a PhD degree.

The position is a part of the Groundbreaking research project ‘Glacier impacts On The Hydrological systems in Europe and Central Asia: A pilot study of drivers and societal impacts of freshwater discharge from glacial systems in Norway and the Chinese Karakoram (GOTHECA-NOCK)’ funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

The candidate’s work will contribute to understanding the interplay between the climate system, glacio-hydrological change, local communities, and infrastructure in Norwegian and Chinese mountain regions, as well as the development of a comprehensive risk assessment scheme for local climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The position is open to developments in two directions: 1. the candidate will work closely with the project manager on developing a coupled ice dynamic-subglacial hydrology model system for Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and a surging glacier; 2. the candidate will work on machine learning in remote sensing aiming at analyzing glacier and glacial lake changes under climate change and providing valuable data for the model simulations. The candidate might be asked to change to his/her less preferred direction depending on the actual task allocation within the research team.

Fieldwork on four glaciers in different parts of Norway in collaboration with the research team in the Western Norway University of Applied Science is anticipated. Two joint field expeditions in China with the Chinese Academy of Sciences are planned for 2023 but may be subject to changes due to external circumstances.

The candidate will work in a vibrant and international team of a researcher, a postdoc fellow, master research assistants, and another PhD candidate under the umbrella project GOTHECA (

This position must be filled by January 2022 and will report to the head of the department.

Duties of the position

  • Participating in in-situ observations of glacial lakes and glacier changes to identify thresholds for and drivers of rapid glacial lake drainage (both research directions).
  • Carrying out model development and simulations concerning the interaction between glacial lakes, glaciers, and the subglacial hydrology system, including the interpretation of relative roles of external and internal drivers using data assimilation (research direction 1).
  • Reconstructing and analyzing the changes in glacial lakes and glaciers through the historical period covered by satellite and airborne observations using automated supervised classification methods, analyzing the retrieved changes versus observations of potential external drivers (research direction 2).
  • The candidate is also encouraged to actively participate in science communication and dissemination activities together with the experts in GRID-Arendal.

Required selection criteria

  • The qualification requirement is a completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with an academic background in physical geography, geophysics, climatology, glaciology, hydrology, remote sensing, physics, applied mathematics, computer sciences, or other related fields.
  • Applicants without a master’s degree must complete their degree requirements prior to the start of the position and must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • The candidate must have a strong academic background from their previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with 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.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program.
  • The candidate must have a strong quantitative background. Documented experience in data analyses and modelling, and/or remote sensing with multispectral satellite imagery and/or aerial photographs are strong advantages.
  • Good written and oral English language skills, ideally, supported by evidence.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • Knowledge about glacier dynamics and related hydrological processes or strong motivation to acquire such knowledge.
  • Keen interest and experience in glacier fieldwork, ideally supported by professional training for glacier safety including crevasse rescue techniques.
  • Interests in producing science communications material and organizing outreach activities.
  • Norwegian and/or Chinese language skills will be considered as an advantage.
  • Driver’s license, which can be used in Norway, and experience with driving during snow seasons and in high-mountain environments are desirable.

Personal characteristics

  • Self-motivated, enthusiastic, and creative
  • Strong collaborative skills
  • Goal-oriented and independent in research
  • Interest in multidisciplinary problem solving
  • Ability and willingness to spend considerable time on glaciers and at glacial lakes during spring (April) and summer (August-September)
  • Good analytical skills and enhanced ability to identify important research problems and design alternative solutions to problems, including multidisciplinary approaches.

In the evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications, emphasis will be placed on the education, documented experience, and personal suitability, as well as personal motivation for ground-breaking research.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 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 three years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD program in social sciences specialising in Geography  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, , except for the fieldwork seasons and vacation periods.

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: 

  • Cover letter describing your qualification and motivation (maximum 2 pages).
  • Research statement including a problem statement, planned research methods and approaches, and a timeline with milestones for their implementation (maximum 2 pages).
  • CV
  • Certificates and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • Names, phone numbers, and email addresses of three referees, including information about the origin of your relation to them.
  • Academic works – published, in review, or in preparation (optional).
  • Proof of English ability such as TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) results (optional).
  • Other relevant documentation and certificates mentioned in ‘Other qualifications’ and ‘Preferred selection criteria’ (optional).

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

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 and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

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 Yongmei Gong, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Renate Lillian 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 SU-637 when applying.

Application deadline: 08.11.2021

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 Geography

We conduct research and teach in subject areas related to the major societal challenges of our time: climate change, migration, urbanization, economic transition and environmental threats. We have a robust fieldwork tradition, and our teaching activities are closely linked to our research. The Department of Geography is one of seven departments at the Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences.

Deadline 8th November 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Project
Place of service Dragvoll

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