PhD position on climate extremes in the
Lake Victoria region

A PhD position (4-year period) on climate extremes in the Lake Victoria region (East Africa), is available at the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (KU Leuven, Belgium).

Weather hazards in East Africa have a detrimental impact on local societies. These effects are exacerbated in cities, where high population densities enhance people's exposure and poor living conditions increase their vulnerability to these hazards. The African population living in cities is expected to increase from the current 200 million to circa 1.2 billion in 2050. The northern shore of Lake Victoria is one of the four hotspots of increasing urbanization in the world. Although this population is vulnerable to extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, extreme rainfall and wind, the future evolution of these weather and climate extremes is uncertain. This is partly due to the specific conditions of the region: The presence of the lake and surrounding spectacular orography has a profound effect on the meteorological conditions. Moreover, the climatic impact of the urbanization in this part of the world has hardly been studied. This project aims at making advancement by studying how extremes will change in the future and what role urban- and lake-induced dynamics will play. The PhD-student will be using convection-permitting regional climate modeling, and will be looking at interactions between mesoscale circulation, convection and urban heat island effects and their impact on climate extremes. The project builds on existing modeling tools developed at KU Leuven. Of particular relevance for this PhD are our experience in African regional climate modeling, with a recent focus on East African climate and the African Great Lakes. The project covers one or more field missions to Kampala and surrounding secondary cities in collaboration with Makerere University.

Leuven is a medieval university town a charming place with many historical buildings. The University of Leuven is among the oldest universities in Western Europe, and today it is the largest university in Belgium. Situated at the heart of Europe, KU Leuven offers a vibrant and international setting, supported by fast connections to several European cities (twenty minutes by train to Brussels, two hours to Cologne, three hours to Amsterdam, and an hour and a half to Paris). The KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School ( supports training of the PhD students. Currently 60% of the doctoral students are international students. KU Leuven pursues an equal opportunities and diversity policy.


We are looking for candidates that have (or are about to finish) a Master degree in a relevant discipline (geography, atmospheric sciences, meteorology, environmental sciences, bioscience engineering, civil engineering, physics, mathematics, etc.). Are you curious about the climate conditions and extreme weather in East Africa? Are you motivated to acquire scientific and technological knowledge? Are you a good communicator? Do you have an interest in scientific computing, earth observation and field work? Did you obtain excellent grades during your studies? Do you like to work in a stimulating and inspiring environment? Are you keen to develop your personal skills that you will need to further develop your career? If the answer to these questions is yes, we invite you to apply for the position.

You can apply at:

Applicants apply via the online application including a motivation letter, their Curriculum Vitae, transcripts, and the names and e-mail of at least two references 25 June 2017 at the latest. Starting date is preferably 1 October 2017, but can be negotiated. Questions related to the job offer can be directed to Prof. Nicole van Lipzig ( The project is carried out in collaboration with Prof. Anton Van Rompaey (KULeuven), Associate Prof. Shuaib Lwasa (Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda), Prof. Wim Thiery (Free University Brussels) and Dr. Matthias Demuzere (Ghent University). It is well embedded in a wider international consortium working in the Lake Victoria region.

published: 09 June 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.