PhD student focusing on Lateral fluxes from coastal
high-arctic watersheds

Fte: 0.8-1,0
VU unit: Faculty of Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Earth and Climate cluster
Vacancy number: 17279
Closing date: October 31st, 2017

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a leading, innovative and growing university that is at the heart of society and actively contributes to new developments in teaching and research. Our university has ten faculties which span a wide range of disciplines, as well as several institutes, foundations, research centres, and support services. Its campus is located in the fastest-growing economic region in the Netherlands (the Zuidas district of Amsterdam), and provides work for over 4,500 staff and scientific education for more than 23,000 students.

At the department of Earth Sciences, we study our dynamic planet from nano- to planetary scale. We quantify the key cycles and interactions in system Earth over timescales from seconds to millions of years by combining fieldwork, lab work and computer simulations. By bringing to bear our fundamental understanding of system Earth and our fresh curiosity we conduct research that is relevant for today's societal challenges including sustainability, climate change and natural hazards. The department's research facilities are regarded as outstanding, while the department's international focus fosters national and international collaboration, both contributing to high-quality and high-impact research outcomes.

Background of the project

This position is one of two new positions (at the VUA) within the European project "NUNATARYUK". Nunataryuk stands for "land-to-sea" in Inuvialuktun, the traditional language spoken by the Inuvialuit in the western Canadian Arctic. The project consists of 28 participants throughout Europe and its main goal is to determine the impacts of thawing land, coastal, and subsea permafrost on the global climate and on humans in the Arctic and to develop targeted and co-designed adaptation and mitigation strategies. VUA is workpackage leader on coastal permafrost and will aim to quantify arctic coastal erosion retreat rates as well as to quantify lateral fluxes from coastal erosion and high-arctic coastal watersheds in order to establish a pan-arctic budget for the nearshore zone.

Content of the research and tasks

The goal of the PhD student research is to establish lateral flux budgets for near-coastal, high-arctic watersheds. He/she will have to perform literature data mining in combination with field campaigns in remote Arctic locations in order to generate baseline data. These data will be combined with satellite imagery analysis (high-resolution) and mapping classification analysis to characterize the spatial controls on fluxes. Geochemical analysis on collected samples, as well as leaching and incubation experiments will provide further information on quality of exported material. The research goals will be a collaborative effort between VUA and colleagues at Stockholm University, Alfred Wegener Institute, and University of Oslo.

The applicant should be able to deal with complex logistical issues, challenging field conditions (primitive living conditions, mosquitos, difficult terrain, cold temperatures) and will spend a substantial amount of time abroad. He/she will collaborate closely with the current VUA group members, as well as other European Nunataryuk participants. He/she will have to contribute in teaching (field) courses. He/she is expected to write scientific papers for international peer-reviewed journals, present his/her results on national and international conferences, and finalize the work in a PhD thesis.

  • MSc. in environmental or earth sciences or related field but with proven interest in earth sciences;
  • strong scientific motivation;
  • hands-on, creative attitude, and ability to work independently in challenging conditions;
  • affinity with working with geochemical laboratory techniques
  • affinity with remote sensing/high-resolution satellite imagery;
  • excellent ability to communicate in both written and spoken English;
  • good social skills and previous field experience;
  • holder of driver's license;
  • willingness to spend substantial time abroad.
Further particulars

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years. Planned project start is December 1st, 2017.

You can find information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment at like:

  • remuneration of 8,3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance
  • solid pension scheme (ABP);
  • a minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;
  • generous contribution (65%) commuting allowance based on public transport;
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance);
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge.

The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel, and ranges from a minimum of 2222 gross per month up to a maximum of 2840 gross per month based on fulltime employment (salary scale 85) for a PhD student.


For additional information please contact Jorien E. Vonk by e-mail at


Applicants should send a cover letter with their motivation, CV, and MSc thesis, as well as the names of two references before October 31st to with the vacancy number in the subject.

Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.

posted: 04 October 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.