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. Currently we are inviting expressions of interest for the Helmholtz Association Award:

PhD position (m/f/d) in Physical Oceanography / Numerical Modeling


The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been retreating dramatically under global warming. In the Eurasian part of the Arctic Ocean, there is evidence that vertical stratification in the upper ocean has weakened substantially in recent years, such that the upward heat flux from the subsurface Atlantic Water layer may have contributed strongly to the decline in sea ice. This scenario has been referred to as "new Arctic" regime. In the perennially ice-covered central Arctic Ocean, instead, the upper-ocean stratification is thought to still prevent strong upward heat fluxes year-round.


In this context the PhD project will focus on the role of the ocean in the retreating sea ice in the Arctic. The general topic of the work is the interaction of large-scale meridional ocean heat transport and regional processes in the Arctic Ocean. An important question to answer during the PhD is to what extent ocean heat transport controls changes in the sea ice extent and air-sea heat fluxes over the past decades. The work includes performing advanced sensitivity experiments with AWI's coupled climate model. As the ocean's role to affect sea ice is strongly defined by its ability to flux heat upward toward the sea ice, another important question will be to understand what controls recent and future vertical ocean transport processes within the Arctic Ocean. To this end, the role of mesoscale eddies in the Arctic will be investigated, again making use of AWI's climate model.

You will

  • receive an intense training in both numerical ocean modeling and techniques of data analysis,
  • be supervised by a team of experts in your field,
  • be able to join a research expedition to the Arctic Ocean to obtain a hands-on experience,
  • be exposed to the interdisciplinary work environment of AWI,
  • closely interact with companion projects based both at AWI and Leipzig University, and
  • be part of the inspiring network of PhD students within the (AC)3 project.


You need hold a M.Sc. degree in physical oceanography, environmental physics, climate physics, or related fields. A very good knowledge of both ocean modeling and geophysical fluid dynamics is desirable, as are advanced programming and computational skills (Fortan, Unix, Python). You should both have a very good command of English in writing and speaking (corresponding to level B2) and be willing to interact with an interdisciplinary science community.

Further Information

The position will start as soon as possible and is limited to 36 months. The salary will be paid in accordance with the German Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes (TVöD Bund), salary level 13 (75%), as is the standard required by the DFG. The place of employment will be Bremerhaven.

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 and towards other positions
  • an international environment - everyday contacts with people from all over the world
  • flexible working hours and the possibility of mobile working up to 50% of regular working hours
  • Health promotion and company fitness with EGYM wellpass
  • support services and a culture of reconciling work and family
  • Occupational pension provision (VBL)

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

Applicants with disabilities 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!

We are looking forward to your application! We require a cover letter with motivation, CV, BSc and MSc certificates including a transcript of records, and two references/letters of recommendation. Please forward your application by 31 January 2024 exclusively online.

Reference number: 24/3/D/Kli-b

posted: 10 January 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.