PhD POSITION Human-climate feedbacks at different spatial-temporal scales

We are happy to announce a new PhD position at IVM (VU Amsterdam) in the EU-funded project I-CISK!

Climate services have a crucial role in empowering citizens, stakeholders and decision-makers in taking climate-smart decisions that are informed by a solid scientific evidence base. The EU-funded I-CISK project will innovate existing climate services by integrating the local data and knowledge, perceptions and preferences of users with research based scientific knowledge.

The PhD project at IVM will focus on exploring how adaptation actions based on climate change information can lead to different planning decisions and consequently different climate-resilience pathways achieving a zero-emission pathway by 2050. The PhD position aims at developing both empirical and dynamic (open source) models to assess the feedback between climate change, climate services, and adaptation actions at different spatial-temporal scales.

As part of the I-CISK project, the PhD is expected to first identify the causal mechanisms explaining the emergence of different feedbacks between climate change, climate service data, socio-economic behaviors and adaptation measures in specific European case studies. The circumstances in which these reciprocal effects emerge will be investigated in case of multiple and consecutive hazards (e.g. floods after droughts and vice versa). Based on the identified causal mechanisms, the PhD will then develop new data analysis approaches for assessing the bidirectional influence of local adaptation actions on larger spatial scales in case of different scenarios of climate services availability. Finally, modelling tools will be conceptualized, developed, and applied to quantify the feedback between adaptation actions, climate change, and climate services, investigating the effects of decisions on different sectors, decision pathways and lock-in conditions.

Your duties

  • developing a multi-hazard framework to characterise the competing hypotheses about the causal links and feedbacks between climate, climate services, socio-economic behaviour, and adaptation actions in different European case studies at multiple spatial-temporal scales;
  • using state-of-the-art statistical methods for analysing large spatial and temporal hazard datasets
  • developing system dynamic (open source) modelling tools for integrating socio-behavioural theories within physical-climate systems and assess the influence of adaptation actions and climate services availability in reaching a resilient future
  • writing a PhD thesis consisting of 4 scientific papers
  • working with colleagues of the project consortium and contributing to project reporting
  • attending international meetings
  • contributing to the teaching and supervising activities at VU Amsterdam


  • MSc degree in the earth, climate, or environmental sciences (or similar); or in data science (or similar) with demonstrable affinity with earth, climate, or environmental sciences
  • knowledge of or interest in natural hazards, risk management, adaptation, water recourses
  • strong interest in interdisciplinary research, combining climate and environmental sciences with social science concepts, methods and data
  • good knowledge of socio-hydrological models and analysis methods of large spatial datasets
  • good programming skills
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger multi-disciplinary team and with international partners, including with policymakers, private sector and civil society stakeholders

The PhD project is supervised by Anne Van Loon, Marije Schaafsma and Maurizio Mazzoleni. The PhD will be based at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at VU Amsterdam and will be part of an active research group and a vibrant ECR community within the institute. The candidate will work in close collaboration with the I-CISK consortium partners, including Uppsala University (Sweden), IHE Delft, SMHI, and ECMWF.

Please find more information and how to apply on the VU website. The deadline is 29 September 2021. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups to increase the diversity of our team.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What documents are needed for the application? CV & motivation letter (transcripts & reference letters not needed at this stage)
  • What is the starting date for the PhD? 1 November 2021 or as soon as possible after.
  • Who is eligible for this position? The position is open to anyone around the world.
  • Do I need to have graduated from my Master’s programme when applying? You will need to have a Master’s diploma when you start the PhD, so if you are finishing your Master’s in the coming months you are able to apply. If this is the case for you, please indicate clearly in your cover letter when you are expecting to graduate.
  • When are the job interviews? Job interviews are planned for 12 October 2021.
  • Will the recruitment process be online? Yes, unfortunately due to COVID restrictions, the entire process will be online.
  • What training program is available to support the PhD? They will be part of the SENSE PhD program, which is an interdisciplinary cross-university program for PhDs. SENSE has a program for doctoral training, including some general introduction and skills courses and a range on subject-specific courses a PhD candidate can choose from.
  • Will the PhD be involved in teaching? Yes, Dutch PhDs are expected and encouraged to teach for about 10% of their time. This can be in the form of supervising BSc & MSc students, supporting computer / field practicals or giving lectures.