The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

Phd position (m/f/d) "Proxies in Arctic lake systems"


PalMod II is a broad project funded by the German Ministry or Education and Science, dealing with transient Earth System simulations of the last Glacial-Interglacial cycle. The offered position focuses on climate reconstructions from terrestrial environments, especially from sedimentary deposits of Arctic lake systems, which shall be compared to newly developed paleoclimate model outputs. Arctic lakes are dynamic systems that are influenced by regional climate changes as well as by local processes in the catchment areas. This project aims at an enhanced understanding and interpretation of proxy datasets from late Quaternary lake sediments. For this purpose, stable oxygen isotopes of terrestrial biogenic silica (e.g. diatoms) and carbonates (e.g. ostracods) shall be compiled to a harmonized terrestrial dataset, which will be used in cooperation with climate modellers for deriving spatial and temporal climate and environmental gradients.


  • Compilation, processing and analyzing available lacustrine oxygen isotope data of sediment cores with a strong focus on carbonate and silicate proxies of Arctic lake systems.
  • Developing simple hydrological models for individual lakes to combine proxy-based lacustrine oxygen isotope data with meteorological and climate model data to decipher the origin of the isotope signature.
  • Assessment of temporal and spatial gradients from lacustrine isotope-based proxy datasets for a better understanding and validation of terrestrial climate and environmental reconstructions
  • Improved error estimates for the sediment-based proxy interpretation and model implementation for an enhanced quality and synthesis of lacustrine oxygen isotope datasets
  • Completion of a doctoral degree with suitable publication activity as well as the presentation of the achieved results at international conferences are supported and expected.


  • You must hold a master's degree or equivalent degree in Geosciences (e.g. Geoecology, (Geo)chemistry, or related disciplines)
  • Background in stable isotope geochemistry and knowledge of biogenic isotope proxies in lake systems
  • Advanced English skills (written and spoken) are a prerequisite

Additional skills and knowledge

  • Previous knowledge with statistical analyses of large data sets using R is beneficial
  • Previous knowledge with field work in Polar Regions is beneficial
  • The willingness to participate in expeditions to polar regions and to perform laboratory work is welcome.

The offered position offers the chance to work together in a competent and enjoyable team addressing current scientific questions about climate reconstruction from terrestrial systems.

We support and expect the completion of the dissertation including three relevant publications and presentation of the results at international conferences.

Further Information

For further information please contact Dr. Hanno Meyer (; +49(331)288-2115) and Dr. Boris Biskaborn (; +49(331)288-2194).

The position is limited to 3 years pending final approval of funding. The salary will be paid in accordance with the German Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes (TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be Potsdam.

This characterizes us

  • our scientific success - excellent research.
  • collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary.
  • opportunities to develop - on the job, aiming at other positions and beyond AWI.
  • a culture of reconciling work and family - audited, and even more than that.
  • our outstanding research infrastructure - ships, stations, aircraft, laboratories and more.
  • an international environment - everyday contacts with people from all over the world.
  • having an influence - fundamental research with social and political relevance
  • flat hierarchies - freedom and responsibility.
  • exciting topics - also in technology, administration and infrastructure.

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy and we encourage women to apply.

As Ph.D. student at AWI you will be member of the Helmholtz Graduate School for Polar and Marine Research 'POLMAR' ( or another graduate school.

Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family through various means. Because of our engagement in the area of work-life compatibility we have been awarded the certificate "Career and Family".

We look forward to your application!

Please forward your application by November 24th, 2019 exclusively online.

Reference number 123/D/Geo-b

posted: 29 October 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.