PhD position: “Defining the spatial dimensions of climate-resilient natural beach-dune landscapes”

The department of Coastal Systems (COS) is looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a strong interest in (coastal) ecology and bio-geomorphology, and the ability to combine and integrate empirical and theoretical work. The candidate will strengthen our new team working on ‘C-SCAPE’ – a project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Program 'Living Labs in the Dutch Delta'.

2019-11-25 13:19:49


VACANCY ID:        2019-086

CLOSING DATE:   January 27th, 2020



The department of coastal systems focuses on biological, chemical and physical processes that underlie the population dynamics of marine organisms (invertebrates, fish, mammals and birds), including transport of flatfish eggs and larvae between spawning and nursery areas. A key aim of the department’s research is to better understand how coastal ecosystems function, and how changes in trophic interactions - in response to natural and anthropogenic environmental changes - influence the richness and productivity of coastal marine ecosystems and the ecological functions they provide. within cos, research is performed as a combination of field observations, experiments and modelling activities, including demographics, migration and energetics



Sand nourishments – the active transport of offshore sands by humans towards the coastline – are often applied in the Netherlands to ensure coastal safety. Although this nature-based approach has been proven to be an effective and flexible tool, climate change is predicted to increase the sand nourishment volumes required to warrant adequate coastal protection in the future. However, as various climate scenarios yield vastly different outcomes with regard to sea level rise and storm intensity, it is currently impossible to predict by how much nourishment volumes should increase to maintain coastal safety and other important societal and ecological functions.



Project C-SCAPE aims to explore sustainable long-term nourishment strategies in the face of an uncertain future by capitalizing on recent large-scale nourishments such as the Sand Motor and Hondsbossche Dunes. Central to these strategies will be the linkages between climate scenarios, coastal landscape management and the benefits for nature and society. The final product of the project is an adaptive nourishment strategy framework, informed by research on morphology, ecology and socio-economics.

As a C-Scape member, you will be part of a multi-disciplinary team consisting of three PhD candidates (at the TU Delft, Leiden University and NIOZ), and scientific staff of the HZ University of Applied Sciences and Deltares. Within this team, you will focus on the project’s ecological research aims. Specifically, you will explore what the minimal spatial dimensions and nourishment requirements of a climate resilient, biodiverse coastal landscape are. Key questions you will deal with are: (1) What is the minimal required coastal width to support a diverse landscape?; (2) How does ecological functioning compare between wide and narrow coasts?; and (3) How can sand nourishments increase coastal landscape resilience to sea level rise? To answer these questions, you will use a combination of GIS-analyses (~40%), numerical modelling (~30%) and field sampling (~30%).



We are seeking an enthusiastic candidate with a strong interest in (coastal) ecology, with the ability to combine and integrate theoretical (e.g. concept development and computer models) and empirical (e.g. field surveys) work. You must have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in ecology, bio-geomorphology, or a related field. A multidisciplinary interest, the ability to work in a group, and a strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree are essential.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended for a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. We offer a salary compliant to the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes, a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus, and flexible work arrangements.

You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.

Additional information on job details: prof. dr. ir. Tjisse van der Heide sr. (project) scientist.
For additional information on the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (sr. HR advisor)

Please note that job interviews will take place at the NIOZ on Texel in the last week of February 2020.

For more information about the COS department click here.


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