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 "structural glaciology: microstructure and stratigraphy of ice" (m/f/d)


The anticipated starting date of this position is October 1st 2021.

This Early-Stage Researcher (ESR, PhD student) position is part of EU HORIZON2020 funded framework of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) DEEPICE. DEEPICE is a research and training network on understanding deep ice core proxies to infer past Antarctic climate dynamics. It is funded by the EU HORIZON2020 programme and consists of 10 academic partner organisations from 10 European countries plus nine collaborating institutions from academia and industry. In total 15 early-stage researchers (PhD students) will be employed after a competitive recruitment process and work together within the European DEEPICE consortium.

Project Description:

The climatic and environmental records in deep ice cores can be challenged when deformation is inhomogeneous and localised, eventually leading to disturbances (e.g. folds) affecting the ice layers' stratigraphy at large depths. Visual stratigraphy provides key information on the existence of such disturbances. The effects on deformation by the presence and interaction of second phases (impurities and air inclusions) with the ice crystals can initiate and affect disturbances by, e.g. localised flow. However, these effects are poorly understood and thus shall be investigated. On the other hand, deformation at least partly by dislocation creep and thus resulting recrystallisation (e.g. grain boundary migration) has the potential to alter the original, depositional stratification. You will provide the basis for using ice microstructure investigations for advising climate reconstruction through (1) continuous measurements of visual stratigraphy by dark-field imaging on available ice core material; (2) discontinuous measurements of crystallographic-preferred orientations and second phase inclusions; (3) integration with available radio-echo sounding data on the large scale; (4) Comparison of the information from (1) to (3) with climate-related ice core data (water isotopes, impurities) and evaluation of the information on disturbances in the stratified ice. The envisaged sample material is from existing ice cores (e.g. EDC) provided through sample requests from the BE-OIC Physical Properties consortium and the expected BE-OIC cores from Antarctica.


  • Work independently, develop and carry through your research project
  • Attend PhD courses to learn additional skills
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis with support from your supervisors
  • Disseminate your research, participate in network related and international conferences and workshops
  • To stay at a partner research institution for at least six months to develop new skills
  • Contribute to the scientific discussions and activities of the wider working group to complement and integrate your project into the big picture of glaciology


  • Proven expertise and a Masters degree (or equivalent) in the field of geosciences, physics, materials science, mechanical engineering, or related disciplines.
  • Well-founded knowledge of basic physics and geoscience.
  • previous experience in microstructure analysis or crystallographic studies is an asset.
  • As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be placed on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience.
  • A distinct interest in the scientific exchange and communication within the group members and interdisciplinary collaborators, especially within DEEPICE is expected.
  • Good language skills in oral and written English, since the working group is composed of international fellow researchers and the research results will be published in internationally renowned scientific journals
  • Mobility to spend periods at Utrecht University, Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, at the University of Copenhagen, PAGES International Project Office in Bern and the Schäfther+Kirchhoff company in Hamburg.

Due to the funding guidelines, the following applies:

Eligibility: The candidate for this position can have any nationality but must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Germany for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. The candidates must, at the time of recruitment by the host organization, be in the first four years of their research careers and must not yet have been awarded a title of PhD."

For each of the early-stage researcher positions a recruitment panel adhering to strict gender equality and equal opportunity rules will be set up. Selection criteria will encompass the potential as researchers, creativity, level of independence, teamwork ability, knowledge, and communication experience.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Ilka Weikusat (; +49(471)4831-1968).

The position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with EU HORIZON2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie rules. The place of employment will be Bremerhaven. The graduating university will be Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen.

All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI's postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures.

The AWI is characterised by

  • 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 – an audited and well-supported aspect of our operation
  • 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 – facilitating freedom and responsibility
  • exciting science topics, with opportunities also in technology, administration and infrastructure

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of female employees and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

We look forward to your application!

Please forward your application by April 30th 2021 exclusively online.

Reference number: 21/62/D/Geo-b

posted: 24 March 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.