PhD Fellow in Remote Sensing for Tracking of Bulk Cargo

The position

A PhD position is available at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology from January 2022. The posistion is affliated with the research group Electromechanical Systems within the field of Remote Sensing.

The workplace is at UiT in Narvik, at the Department and with the research group. The research activites of the group are aimed at remote sensing, communications technology, autonomous platforms, power electronics, energy systems and advanced control. You must be able to start in the position within a reasonable time after receiving the offer.

The position is for a period of four years. The nominal length of the PhD programme is three years. The fourth year is distributed as 25 % each year and will consist of teaching and other duties. The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position.

The position’s field of research

Ship tracking data from the Automated Identification System (AIS) has several known quality issues: incomplete coverage in space and time, often erroneous data, and ease of manipulation. Moreover, AIS contains no information about cargo type, the true cargo volume/weight onboard, or the storage situation in the port. These challenges create the need for new knowledge in three main areas: Firstly, to identify and utilise alternative data sources that can be fused with AIS ship position data in order to fill in the gaps. Secondly, to develop novel methods to remotely identify the cargo types stored or loaded/discharged in a particular terminal. Thirdly, to track changes in stored volumes in wet and dry bulk ports using remote sensing technology.

The SHIPTRACK project is a co-operation between shipping researchers at NHH/SNF, satellite data experts at UiT The Arctic University of Norway campus Narvik, remote sensing startup, shipping companies Utkilen and Western Bulk, and the Bergen Shipowners' Association. The project is highly interdisciplinary and aims to develop new knowledge from fusing satellite (optical and radar) and AIS data. The project intends to develop novel methods for the automated tracking of ships (during gaps or faulty AIS transmissions) and the extraction of metadata such as speed and loading condition from optical satellite data. Combined with new methods for the classification of commodity types and monitoring of stored volumes (both liquid and dry bulk) using remote sensing, this creates a very powerful tool for increasing visibility in the commodity supply chains and bulk freight markets. In terms of impacts, the project results contribute to better spatial resource allocation for bulk commodities, for instance by reducing uncertainty in restocking decisions, demand estimates and transportation planning. Improved ship tracking also facilitates safer and more efficient transportation and the prevention of potential of illegal and harmful activities.

The PhD position, part of SHIPTRACK, will focus on using mostly optical multispectral satellite remote sensing data to identify, quantify and track bulk cargoes in and between ports. This involves classification of bulk type, volume estimations and temporal changes. Within the project there will be collaboration on these results together with the other partners.

The research for this position focuses on:

  • Developing/implementing methods for classifying bulk goods from satellite remote sensing data
  • Developing a physics based model for estimating the volume of bulk goods stored in ports from satellite remote sensing data
  • Tracking changes in bulk volumes over time based on satellite remote sensing data
  • Collaborative research with the other partners in the project


For further information about the position, please contact Associate professor Pål Gunnar Ellingsen:


This position requires a master’s degree or equivalent in remote sensing, applied physics, satellite technology, computer science, or other relevant disciplines. In addition, knowledge and training in the following fields are desirable:

  • Remote sensing
  • Image processing
  • Programming skills, for instance Python
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Machine learning
  • Digital signal processing
  • Linux

Applicants must document fluency of in English and be able to work in an international environment. For Nordic applicants this can be documanted by uploading their high school diploma. Working knowledge of Norwegian or a Scandinavian language is also beneficial.

The applicants must present a description outlining the academic basis of the PhD project. The project description shall not exceed one page, literature references not included. It must include a description of the theme, research question(s) and a reasoning of the choices. It should also indicate the methodologies to be used. The final project description will be developed in cooperation with the supervisor.

In the assessment, the emphasis is on the applicant's potential to complete a research education based on the master's thesis or equivalent, and any other scientific work. In addition, other experience of significance for the completion of the doctoral programme may be given consideration.

We will also emphasize motivation and personal suitability for the position.

As many as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.

Admission to the PhD programme

For employment in the PhD position, you must be qualified for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Health Sciences / Faculty of Science and Technology / Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics / Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education / Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology / National Joint PhD Program in Nautical Operations and participate in organized doctoral studies within the employment period.

Admission normally requires:

  • A bachelor's degree of 180 ECTS and a master's degree of 120 ECTS, or an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 30 ECTS for a master's degree of 120 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 20 ECTS for an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.

In order to gain admission to the programme, applicants with a background from a Norwegian institution should have a minimum grade of C on their master thesis and a weighted grade average of 3.0 for the last two years of their master programme. A more detailed description of admission requirements can be found here.

Applicants with a foreign education will be subjected to an evaluation of whether the educational background is equal to Norwegian higher education, following national guidelines from NOKUT. Depending on which country the education is from, one or two additional years of university education may be required to fulfil admission requirements, e.g. a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 2-year master's degree.

If you are employed in the position, you will be provisionally admitted to the PhD programme. Application for final admission must be submitted no later than two months after taking up the position.

Inclusion and diversity

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is working actively to promote equality, gender balance and diversity among employees and students, and to create an inclusive and safe working environment. We believe that inclusion and diversity are a strength and we want employees with different competencies, professional experience, life experience and perspectives.

If you have a disability, a gap in your CV or immigrant background, we encourage you to tick the box for this in your application. If there are qualified applicants, we invite at least one in each group for an interview. If you get the job, we will adapt the working conditions if you need it. Apart from selecting the right candidates, we will only use the information for anonymous statistics.

We offer

  • Involvement in an interesting research project
  • Good career opportunities
  • A good academic environment with dedicated colleagues?
  • Flexible working hours and a state collective pay agreement?
  • Pension scheme through the state pension fund?
  • More practical information for working and living in Norway can be found here:


Your application must include:

  • Cover letter explaining your motivation and research interests
  • CV
  • Diploma for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Transcript of grades/academic record for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Explanation of the grading system for foreign education (Diploma Supplement if available)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • References with contact information
  • Master’s thesis, and any other academic works
  • Project description (One page)

Qualification with a master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must document completion of your degree before commencement in the position. You must still submit your transcripts for the master’s degree with your application.

All documentation to be considered must be in a Scandinavian language or English. Diplomas and transcripts must also be submitted in the original language, if not in English or Scandinavian. We only accept applications and documentation sent via Jobbnorge within the application deadline.

General information

The appointment is made in accordance with State regulations and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants.

A shorter period of appointment may be decided when the PhD Fellow has already completed parts of their research training programme or when the appointment is based on a previous qualifying position PhD Fellow, research assistant, or the like in such a way that the total time used for research training amounts to three years.

Remuneration for the position of PhD Fellow is in accordance with the State salary scale code 1017. A compulsory contribution of 2 % to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund will be deducted.

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act (Offentleglova). According to?the Personal Data Act information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication, if you have requested non-disclosure.

UiT - Developing the High North

UiT is a multi-campus research university in Norway and the northernmost university of the world. Our central location in the High North, our broad and diverse research and study portfolio, and our interdisciplinary qualities make us uniquely suited to meet the challenges of the future. At UiT you can explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

Credibility, academic freedom, closeness, creativity and commitment shall be hallmarks of the relationship between our employees, between our employees and our students and between UiT and our partners.

posted: 28 September 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.