PhD Scholarship in Extreme Storm Surges and Climate Risk Assessment

DTU Management Engineering
Monday 14 May 18

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The Climate Change and Sustainable Development research group (CCSD) at DTU Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, invites applications for a 3-year PhD position related to extreme storm surges and climate risk assessment along the Danish coasts. The position is offered in collaboration with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

Storm surges is one of the main natural hazards in Denmark, as testified by recent as well as historical storm surges. Due to climate change and the related sea level rise, damages to human and natural systems caused by storms and storm surges are expected to become more frequent. This includes offshore installations as well as damages caused by flooding in coastal regions. Present estimates of maximum storm surge heights along the Danish coasts do not generally take into account climate change and are typically based on statistics of local measurements from observational records that in some instances cover no more than a few decades. As a result, the full distribution of potential events is poorly sampled, in particular when it comes to the extremes.

Responsibilities and tasks
The aim of the PhD project is to identify the physical limits of a “perfect” storm surge, i.e. to enhance the knowledge of how extreme (worst-case scenario) storms and storm surges on the Danish coasts can get under present and future climatic conditions. To do so the PhD student will learn from observations and models about atmospheric configurations, which can lead to extreme storm surges in the Danish seas. He/she will also carry out hydro-dynamical modelling using DMI’s operational ocean model to investigate the impacts on storm surges from the North Sea, Kattegat and Baltic Sea, including the effects of climate change. Finally, based on these outcomes, detailed risk maps will be developed and confronted with, e.g., current information on offshore infrastructure in the Danish seas, including planned investments and placement.

As a PhD student you will be employed at DTU and share your time equally between CCSD and the research department at DMI. A research stay with an international research partner is planned as part of the PhD study.

Your responsibilities and tasks associated with the position include: 

  • Active participation in the research environments at DTU and DMI;
  • At DTU you will contribute to a multi-disciplinary CCSD research team working on risk and damage cost assessments of climate hazards in cities, coastal areas and in relation to renewable energy deployment, among other topics;
  • At DMI you will be part of the research team working on the development and production of a comprehensive climate atlas to support adaptation to climate change, for example in Danish municipalities;
  • Presentations of your work at national and international conferences and workshops;
  • Publication of the results from the PhD study in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Candidates should have a master's degree in geophysics, oceanography, climate science, meteorology, engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in one of the geosciences or engineering.

The ideal candidate are moreover likely to have documented skills within one or more of the following areas: 

  • Geophysical data analysis and processing
  • Regional climate modelling
  • Storm surge modelling
  • Climate risk assessments

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.  

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years. Pending academic approval you are expected to start on 1 August 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.  

The primary place of work is Systems Analysis Division, DTU Management Engineering, Produktionstorvet 426, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark. The secondary place of work is Danish Meteorological Institute, Lyngbyvej 100, 2100 København Ø, Denmark, located some 10 km from DTU.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.  

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Researcher Martin Drews, DTU,, or Kristine S. Madsen, Head of Oceanography, DMI,, or Group Leader Simon Bolwig, DTU,   

You can read more about research at CCSD and Systems Analysis here. You can read more about research at DMI here.  

Please submit your online application no later than 1 June 2018 (local time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include: 

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Systems Analysis (SYS) is an internationally well-established division doing high-level research on energy and transport economics, climate change, urban systems, and sustainable development. We develop and apply methods from systems modelling, economics, econometrics and statistics, spatial analysis, and value chain analysis. SYS has a staff of approximately 80 and employs researchers with competences in a range of related disciplines with a dominance of engineering and economics. 

Climate Change and Sustainable Development is one among four research groups in SYS. It has around 18 staff and covers two interrelated research areas: (1) Climate change impacts, risks, adaptation, and mitigation based on the integrating of physical models and socio-economic approaches to support decision-making and risk analysis given complex uncertainties; (2) Urban systems that researches connections between urban infrastructure, information and communications technology, energy, water and qualities that create smart and sustainable liveable cities. Specific topics and methods include modelling for urban and climate services, dynamic damage and adaptation cost assessments related to climate hazards such as flooding, the climate-water-energy nexus, and bio economy. We emphasize statistical analysis, data management and Big Data alongside qualitative methods such as value chain analysis.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.