PhD position for Antarctic climate and ice sheet surface mass budget modelling | Polar Jobs
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Danish Meterological Institute   Copenhagen, Denmark

PhD position for Antarctic climate and ice sheet surface mass budget modelling

Science & Academic
Scandinavia, Svalbard, Iceland
6 months ago

Are you looking for a PhD in climate science, and interested in ice sheets and future sea level rise? The National Centre for Climate Research is part of a collaborative project focusing on the importance of the large polar ice sheets for future sea level rise projections. The project, Predicting Changes in Ice Sheets (PRECISE), is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and aims to produce improved projections of sea level rise from ice sheets – and you can take part in this exciting and important work.

The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) opens a PhD position (3 years) in climate research to work with ice sheet surface mass balance processes over Antarctica. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with other experts in regional climate and ice sheet modelling, at both the National Centre for Climate Research (NCKF) at DMI and at the partner institutions in PRECISE: the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen and the University of Northumbria (United Kingdom).

As our new colleague you will work in a department with a strong profile in both global and regional climate modelling, as well as remote sensing. You will use machine learning and advanced statistics to co-develop and run a surface mass balance (SMB) model emulator for Antarctica, in order to produce realistic sea level rise projections. Your work will focus on emulating the historical period, using output from DMI’s new state-of-the-art regional climate model HCLIM and including assimilation of observational data, as well as producing projections of surface mass budget over Antarctica. A further focus is the role of surface topography and elevation feedbacks on surface mass budget. The emulator will be trained on a variety of different topographies to represent different ice sheet geometries and to examine the feedbacks between atmosphere and ice sheet mass budget. Development of the model emulator will be carried out in close collaboration with colleagues working on the Greenland ice sheet both at DMI and at the Niels Bohr Institute. There is also a possibility to carry out fieldwork in Greenland within the project. This PhD forms part of the preparation for the next climate model intercomparison project (CMIP7) and will therefore likely contribute high quality research to international collaborations.

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with an interest in the following themes: ice and climate modelling, coupled atmosphere-ice processes, complex numerical modelling, and ice sheet mass loss. Applicants should have a master’s degree in a relevant discipline, for example physics, geophysics, meteorology, geography etc. Previous experience with machine learning techniques, field work, surface mass balance modelling, or statistical data analysis is desired, but not required.

Principal supervisor will be Dr Ruth Mottram, DMI with supplementary supervision at the University of Copenhagen from Professor Christine S. Hvidberg and Associate Professor Aslak Grinsted from Physics of Ice, Climate and Earth at the Niels Bohr Institute.

Expected qualifications:
  • An MSc degree in a numerical discipline (see below)
  • Skills and interest in statistical methods and analysis of climate simulations
  • Experience in programming in Linux, scripting languages and analysis in e.g. Python, R, or similar.
  • Good communication skills in oral and written English.
Formal qualifications needed for the PhD programme:

To be eligible for the regular PhD programme at University of Copenhagen, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. Physics, Geophysics, Math, Computer Science or similar.

About DMI and the National Centre fo Climate Research (NCKF):

The position is in the Danish National Centre for Climate Research (NCKF) at DMI, which employs more than 50 climate scientists, including PhD students, junior and senior scientists. The companion Weather Research department employs researchers working with meteorology, oceanography and hydrology. We have a strong international profile, which is also reflected in the many nationalities employed and in the use of both English and Danish as working languages.

NCKF has been established with the purpose to conduct critical climate research for the Kingdom of Denmark (Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands) and bring together climate knowledge, to form the basis for green transition and climate adaptation. The activities include assessments of observed and future climate change of the physical climate system, with focus on the Polar Regions, Greenland and on extreme weather and sea level around Denmark. Across the department, climate research builds on both global and regional modelling as well as observations from remote sensing, in-situ measurements and field work. NCKF also develops the Danish Climate Atlas (Klimaatlas) which contains detailed data about expected future changes in the climate across Denmark.

The PRECISE project (PREdicting Changes in Ice ShEets):

The PRECISE project is a 6 year collaboration between DMI, the University of Copenhagen Niels Bohr Institute and the University of Northumbria, Newcastle (United Kingdom). The aim is to produce improved projections of sea level rise from ice sheets with a focus on incorporating new physics understanding and new observational data into numerical models. DMI’s role in the project is twofold: to investigate and improve surface mass balance processes and in particular to examine the effect of surface elevation feedbacks, and to couple and run the global model EC-Earth with integrated online numerical ice sheet models for both Greenland and Antarctica.

Employment and salary:

Employment and salary will be according to the Danish Law and Agreements, as a PhD researcher depending on previous experience. Researchers who are recruited from abroad, and who are able to meet certain conditions, have the opportunity to work in Denmark for a period of 60 months under a special 26 % tax rate without deduction, instead of working under the regular income taxation.

DMI offers a flexible working week of 37 hours including a paid lunch break, and six weeks of paid vacation annually.

Employment area is Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Facilities and associated institutions. Work place is DMI at Sankt Kjelds Plads 11, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark. Physical presence is expected, but ad-hoc work from home can be arranged.

For further details about the position, contact Head of unit, Rasmus Anker Pedersen (telephone: +45 20 46 79 38 or e-mail:, or principal supervisor Ruth Mottram (

At DMI, diversity is an important value for us, because we believe that an inclusive and versatile work environment strengthens task fulfilment. We work actively with diversity in our employee composition, which is reflected in our inclusive workplace with a balance between work life and family life. We encourage everyone to apply for the position regardless of age, gender, sexuality, religion or ethnicity.


Please send your application, including (1) a cover letter with motivation for the application, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) relevant exam papers and diplomas, (4) possible other relevant appendices and contacts for relevant professional references, so we have it in our system by February the 18th 2024.

To apply for the position, please use the below link “Apply for Position”, and follow the instructions.

We expect to hold interviews in the week starting with Monday the 26th of February 2024.

Starting date flexible but as soon as possible for the selected candidate.

The Danish Meteorological Institute is an institution under the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities carrying out Forecast and Warning Services as well as continuous monitoring of Weather, Climate and Ocean in order to secure human life and property and at the same time create a basis for economic and environmental planning in the society. Research & Development is also part of our significant core business. The DMI is an exciting workplace with professional competent employees with a wide variety of educations. You will not find a similar working place in Denmark.

Why the DMI is such a special workplace – please find more information at – “About DMI”.



Danish Meterological Institute