Scientist to work on Modelling Cryosphere Processes

1. Position information

Vacancy No.: VN20-16
Grade: A2
Job Ref. No.: STF-C/20-16
Department: Research
Section: Earth System Modelling
Reports to: Coupled Processes Team Leader
Closing Date: 12 October 2020

2. About ECMWF

ECMWF is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its Member States. ECMWF carries out scientific and technical research directed to the improvement of its forecasts, collects and processes large amounts of observations, and manages a long-term archive of meteorological data. Satellite and in situ observations provide the information for up-to-date global analyses and climate reanalyses of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface.

For details, see

3. Summary of the role

The position is in the Earth System Modelling Section of the Research Department. The Scientist will work in the Coupled Processes team, in close collaboration with the Coupled Assimilation team and with the Physical Processes team. The role of this position is to improve the representation of near-surface weather parameters in cold conditions by maintaining and further developing the representation of the cryosphere in ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System. More specifically, the position will develop an improved coupling between the atmosphere and the snow over land and sea-ice surfaces and improve the assimilation of (satellite) observations over these surfaces by addressing uncertainty in the Earth surface representation and contributing to ECMWF’s all-sky, all-surface data assimilation strategy.

The Scientist will work on the representation of cryosphere processes over land (in both continental and polar regions) and over (lake/sea) ice surfaces and identify model errors and parametrization improvements with the aid of in-situ, satellite-based Earth observations combined with targeted diagnostics and numerical experimentation. The results will be tested in coupled forecasts and in ECMWF’s data assimilation framework with the aim of enhancing forecast skill both through an improved model, and through better use of existing microwave and infrared satellite observations in (re-)analyses.

4. Main duties and key responsibilities

  • Maintaining and further developing the cryosphere representation (snow, glaciers, soil-freezing, atmosphere-snow-ice coupling) in ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) for use in forecast and assimilation
  • Evaluating the simulated thermodynamic coupling, and improving the representation of surface fluxes, over glaciers, ice-sheets, permafrost, sea and lake ice with particular focus on extreme events prediction
  • Optimising the interaction of atmosphere and enhanced cryosphere processes in ensemble forecasts and data assimilation (e.g. 4D-Var, spread calibration, parameter estimation)
  • Developing observation operators to allow direct comparison to observations sensitive to snow cover (e.g. microwave radiances), both to validate cryospheric aspects of the forecast model and to prepare for future direct radiance assimilation
  • Identifying and exploring cryosphere-adapted data assimilation methodologies (e.g. forward operators, ensemble and variational upgrades, TL/AD)
  • Managing project deliverables relevant to cold processes research (e.g. in the framework of the Polar Prediction Project) and contributing to publications and reporting

5. Personal attributes

  • Very strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Initiative and ability to work collaboratively with other team members, but also able to work independently
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills with a proactive continuous improvement approach
  • Dedication, passion and enthusiasm to succeed both individually and as a fully integrated member of the team
  • Ability and willingness to collaborate with internal and external experts on related aspects of forecast, observation and data assimilation development
  • Active listener who seeks and respects the views of others
  • Highly organised with the capacity to work on a diverse range tasks to tight deadlines

6. Qualifications and experience required


  • A university degree or equivalent professional experience in atmospheric science, geosciences or related areas of physics with a background in data assimilation.
  • A PhD is desirable but not essential.


  • Some professional experience in meteorology, geosciences, or a related subject, with a background in cryosphere modelling and/or data assimilation and snow observations.
  • Experience with developing and maintaining large scientific codes.
  • Experience in parameter optimisation or other inversion techniques.
  • Experience with large EO dataset in various formats such as netCDF and GRIB.
  • Experience in statistical analysis with both observational and model data.

Knowledge and skills (including language)

  • Very good programming and scripting skills.
  • Ability to coordinate work and interact with a large Consortium
  • Candidates must be able to work effectively in English and interviews will be conducted in English.
  • A good knowledge of one of the Centre’s other working languages (French or German) would be an advantage.

7. Other information

The successful candidate will be recruited at the A2 grade, according to the scales of the Co-ordinated Organisations and the annual basic salary will be up to £60,590.64 net of tax. This position is assigned to the employment category STF-C as defined in the Staff Regulations.

Full details of salary scales and allowances are available on the ECMWF website at, including the Centre’s Staff Regulations regarding the terms and conditions of employment.

Starting date: 1st January 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Length of contract: Four years, with possibility of a further contract.

Location: The position will be based in Reading, in Berkshire, United Kingdom. Successful applicants and members of their family forming part of their households will be exempt from immigration restrictions.

Videoconference interviews (via Blue Jeans) will take place in the last week of November 2020.

8. How to apply

Please apply by completing the online application form available at

To contact the ECMWF Recruitment Team, please email

Please refer to the ECMWF Privacy Statement. For details of how we will handle your personal data for this purpose, see:

At ECMWF, we consider an inclusive environment as key for our success. We are dedicated to ensuring a workplace that embraces diversity and provides equal opportunities for all, without distinction as to race, gender, age, marital status, social status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, personality, ethnicity and culture. We value the benefits derived from a diverse workforce and are committed to having staff that reflect the diversity of the countries that are part of our community, in an environment that nurtures equality and inclusion.

Applications are invited from nationals from ECMWF Member States and Co-operating States, listed below:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Applications from nationals from other countries may be considered in exceptional cases.

published: 14 September 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.