Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

Postdoc position: “The role of benthic fauna on the biogeochemistry of the northwest European continental shelf”

The department of Coastal Systems (COS) is looking for a highly motivated Postdoc. We offer a postdoctoral position of approximately 2 years (25-27 months) to investigate the role of benthic fauna in the storage of carbon on the northwest European continental shelf under the supervision of dr. Johan van der Molen.

VACANCY ID: 2020-017
CLOSING DATE: May 10, 2020


The Department of COS studies integral coastal ecosystems and their populations of fish, birds and other marine animals in the North and Wadden Seas as well as on a global scale. The department focusses on key physical, chemical and biological processes that determine the productivity and the ecological functioning of coastal areas. The coastal system is studied as a unity by considering the interrelations between the key compartments of the ecosystem (water, sediment, microalgae, macrozoobenthos, parasites, fish and birds).


Burrowing benthic fauna influence the biogeochemistry of the sediments, such as oxygenation and input of particulate organic matter, by their metabolism and burrowing activity. This influences bacterial activity, and the recycling of nutrients and carbon. The recycled nutrients are vital for pelagic primary production and carbon uptake, and hence for the carrying capacity of the North Sea for the marine ecosystem and a range of services it provides for us. These fauna and hence the nutrient and carbon cycling capacity of the sea bed are likely to be sensitive to disturbance such as trawling, climate change, riverine nutrient inputs and wind farms. Because these benthic fauna and associated biogeochemical processes are as yet poorly represented in numerical models, simulations to assess the sensitivity of shelf sea biogeochemistry to disturbance are associated with substantial uncertainty.

Recently, significant progress has been made at NIOZ to improve the representation of benthic fauna and associated processes in the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM), which is coupled to the General Estuarine Transport Model (GETM). We are looking for a postdoc who will validate this model in our North Sea test setup using historic data and data collected in our on-going North Sea research programme. He/she will implement it in our northwest European shelf setup, and assess the importance of the feedback mechanisms associated with benthic fauna for the carrying capacity for primary production in the area. The postdoc will also investigate the sensitivity of the benthic fauna and primary production to (changes in) selected disturbances.


You have a PhD in a physical science (physics, mathematics or oceanography), and a strong interest in marine science. You are a good programmer, preferably with experience in Fortran and Python, and has a solid background in numerical modelling. Knowledge of parallel computing in Linux, biogeochemistry and/or benthic processes are an advantage. You are able to understand, develop and apply existing complex community models/software as part of a small team that works within a wider community of developers/users/researchers. As such, you can work independently on your own research, while contributing to the goals of the team and the community, and collaborating with field scientists. You are not afraid to ask questions, and seek support when needed. You have presented your work at international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and will continue to do so as part of this project.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of approximately 2 years (fulltime). The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3% of the gross annual salary, flexible work arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).

You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.

Royal NIOZ is located on the beautiful island Texel. Texel offers sun, wind and beach, and a diverse but moderate level of facilities, including a thriving tourist industry, shops, sports facilities, primary schools and a high school. It is connected to the main land by an hourly to half-hourly ferry service, with crossings taking 20 minutes. The Royal NIOZ is situated next to the ferry terminal.


For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Johan van der Molen (sr. scientist and supervisor).

For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (sr. HR advisor).

Please visit the Department of Coastal Sciences here.

Closing date for applications: May 10th 2020. Please note: job interviews are foreseen for the week of June 1st, 2020 on Texel.

posted: 31 March 2020   Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.