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) observational Physical Oceanography


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 the "new Arctic" regime. In the perennially ice-covered central Arctic Ocean, instead, the halocline is thought to still prevent strong upward heat fluxes year-round.


The PhD thesis will focus on the role the ocean plays in the retreat of sea ice in the Arctic. For this a unique, observational data set of temperature, salinity, and velocity from the upper central Arctic Ocean obtained from (mostly autonomous platforms) over the past 20 years will be used, augmented by observations of sea ice parameters. A major goal of the thesis is to establish the basin-scale distribution of upward ocean heat fluxes coupling the ocean mixed layer, sea ice, and atmosphere. Another important goal is to investigate whether the heat fluxes between ice, mixed layer, and warm Atlantic Water have changed and, if so, in what way are they related to changes in the subsurface circulation of Atlantic Water.

You will

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


You need to hold an M.Sc. degree in physical oceanography, environmental physics, climate physics, or related fields when you start this position. An excellent background in fluid dynamics and good programming skills (preferably in Matlab or python) is an asset. You should have both a very good command of English in writing and speaking (corresponding to level B2) and be willing to interact with an interdisciplinary science community. We expect you to participate in polar research expeditions.

Further Information

For more information or questions regarding the project please contact Prof. Dr. Torsten Kanzow ( or Prof. Dr. Benjamin Rabe (

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 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: 24/4/D/Kli-b

posted: 11 January 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.