Postdoc position: “Effects of windfarms on the marine ecosystem: Ecosystem productivity and feedback of sessile epifauna on structures”.

The department of Coastal Systems (COS) is looking for a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher. We offer a postdoctoral position of 2 years to investigate, by developing and using numerical models, the effects of windfarms on ecosystem productivity, with emphasis on the role of filter feeding organisms growing on the turbine foundations and the monopiles on turbidity, phytoplankton concentrations, and supply of detritus to the sea bed. The work will be carried out under the supervision of dr. Johan van der Molen, in collaboration with Deltares.

2020-12-02 13:00:23

VACANCY ID:         2020 - 69
CLOSING DATE:     January 22nd , 2021


The Department of COS studies integral coastal ecosystems and their populations of fish, birds and other marine animals in the North and Wadden Seas as well as on a global scale. The department focusses on key physical, chemical and biological processes that determine the productivity and the ecological functioning of coastal areas. The coastal system is studied as a unity by considering the interrelations between the key compartments of the ecosystem (water, sediment, microalgae, macrozoobenthos, parasites, fish and birds).  


To reduce CO2 emissions, the Netherlands is committed to an energy transition from using fossil fuels to renewable energy. As part of this transition, offshore wind farms are being built and planned on a large scale in the North Sea. To enable good governance of offshore wind energy generation, balancing economical aspects and the marine environment in a sustainable way, the effects of wind farms on the physical and ecological processes in the North Sea need to be understood.

So far, the spatial ecological footprint of large-scale wind farms is poorly understood. This relates in particular to the role of turbine foundations on turbidity, with potential impact on the under-water light climate, nutrient availability and primary production, and hence on the entire food web, and on the role of turbine foundations in providing hard substrate for filter-feeding animals, with effects on nutrient cycling and the provision of fine sediments and food to the sea bed.

The overall project consists of five work packages, and aims to provide insight in these effects at multiple spatial scales, using a combination of field observations, remote sensing applications and numerical hydrodynamics-ecosystem models, as to allow for an optimization of the implementation of wind farms from an ecological, economical and governance perspective. The postdoc position constitutes one of these work packages, and aims to quantify the effects of wind farms on turbidity and ecosystem production, including feedback mechanisms with filter-feeding epifauna communities on the structures, and considering different farm layouts, inter-farm distance and hydrographic conditions (depth, sediment composition, tidal currents, and stratification).


The postdoc will improve the implementation of sessile epifauna on structures in the DelWAQ ecosystem model, as well as in the ERSEM-BFM ecosystem model, using results from other parts of the project. DelWAQ is coupled to the DCSM-FM hydrodynamics model. The postdoc will investigate the feasibility of coupling ERSEM-BFM to DCSM-FM, and implement this or use ERSEM-BFM with the hydrodynamics model GETM. Both models run on high performance parallel computing clusters. The postdoc will run scenarios for windfarm configurations in the North Sea with both models and compare, combine and synthesise the results in terms of effects of windfarms on the marine ecosystem. The postdoc will also provide results to other work packages in the project. The postdoc will publish the work in at least two peer-reviewed journal papers. The preferred start date is 1 May 2021.


You have a PhD in a physical science (physics, mathematics or oceanography), and a strong interest in marine science. You are a good programmer, preferably with experience in Fortran and Python, and have a solid background in numerical modelling. Knowledge of parallel computing in Linux, biogeochemistry and/or benthic processes are an advantage. Affinity with ecological processes and functioning, including Dynamic Energy Balance concepts and models, is also desirable. You are able to understand, develop and apply existing complex community models/software as part of a small team that works within a wider community of developers/users/researchers. As such, you can work independently on your own research, while contributing to the goals of the team and the community, and collaborating with field scientists. You are not afraid to ask questions, and seek support when needed. You have presented your work at international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and will continue to do so as part of this project.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 2 years (fulltime). The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3% of the gross annual salary, flexible work arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).

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

Royal NIOZ is located on the beautiful island Texel. Texel offers sun, wind and beach, and a diverse but moderate level of facilities, including a thriving tourist industry, shops, sports facilities, primary schools and a high school. It is connected to the main land by an hourly to half-hourly ferry service, with crossings taking 20 minutes. The Royal NIOZ is situated next to the ferry terminal.


Please apply online at  For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Johan van der Molen (sr. scientist and supervisor).  
For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (sr. HR advisor).

Please visit the Department of Coastal Sciences here.

Closing date for applications: January 22nd, 2021. Please note: job interviews are foreseen for week 6 in 2021(February 8th – 12th ), if possible on Texel, but otherwise online.


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