PhD Position in Modelling Methane Fluxes in the Siberian Arctic

VU University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science

Postdoc in Modelling the role of microbes in methane fluxes in the Siberian Arctic
Would you like to solve one of the Earth system’s big unknown feedbacks working in an expanding group at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in collaboration with the environmental microbiology group at Nijmegen? Are you interested in predicting future emissions of methane from permafrost and climate change?

Do you like modelling and integrating results from field experiments in high latitudes and lab experiments? 

Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The permafrost area of Siberia is one of world’s largest stores of soil carbon. Thermokarst processes which are sensitive to climate change provide a very dynamic landscape in the Arctic tundras where thaw seasonally provides access to large
amounts of carbon. The resulting methane emissions from these systems can constitute an important and potentially large positive feedback on climate change. Our understanding of the precise interaction between the production and consumption of methane in these partly oxygen limited systems is poor. This hinders development of realistic models that incorporate for instance microbial behavior in oxic and anoxic parts of the soil and thus future predictions of the feedback remain highly uncertain. 

You will join a team, partly funded by the Dutch excellence program Netherlands Earth System Science Center (NESSC) and other sources (EU, Dutch science funding) to develop a novel model incorporating microbial dynamics. You will have access to state-of-the-art environmental microbial lab results at Radboud University and data from several field experiments. We will seek collaboration with main ESM modelling centers in the world involved in modelling methane fluxes.

Your duties

  • Review the relevant literature of species composition and biogeochemical activities that elucidates the precise interaction between production and consumption of methane in Arctic soils and its dependence on environmental controls such as weather and hydrology.
  • Develop a novel model based on microbial composition and dynamics that mimics the key controls of methane emissions of tundra in the Siberian Arctic
  •  Present results at conferences and in peer-reviewed publications


  • PhD in Earth sciences, mathematics, or biology
  • Preferably experience with data analysis and modelling
  • Preferably experience with programming (Python, Matlab, Fortran)

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,790 (scale 10) and a maximum €4,402 (scale 10), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 3 years.

The preferred starting date is before June 2021.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until April 15, 2021. The job interviews will be conducted via Zoom.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. dr. Han Dolman
Position: Hoogleraar
Telephone: 020-5987358

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