Ph.D. researcher in the field of paleoclimatology

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Currently, we seek to fill one Ph.D.-research position within the Paleoclimatology group, as part of the Vici program “Evolution of astronomically paced climate changes from Greenhouse to Icehouse world”, granted by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to Prof. Dr. Lucas Lourens. The program aims to detect the non-linear response mechanisms within the global climate system to astronomical forcing using an integrated data-modeling comparison approach applied to four key intervals that experienced different background pCO2 concentrations. The selected interval for this Ph.D. project encompasses the onset of major Northern Hemisphere glaciations around 3 Ma when pCO2 values declined below pre-industrial values. The program involves scientists (including two postdoctoral fellows and three Ph.D.’s) at Utrecht University, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), and various European and US research groups.
Project description

The main goal of this Ph.D. project is to constrain the phase, geometry and magnitude of the North American and Eurasian ice sheets during the early to late Pliocene climate transition. Emphasis will be on the mechanisms that may have caused the non-linear components of ~28 and ~80-kyr in the climate system and their relationship to the onset of the obliquity (i.e. 41-kyr) dominated glacial-interglacial variability. For this purpose the stable oxygen isotope composition of benthic foraminifera and geochemical proxy records of eastern Mediterranean Ocean Drilling Sites will be constructed for the time interval between ~1.4 and ~4 Ma. The resulting stable isotope record will be used as input for an inverse modeling technique to reconstruct changes in ice volume and temperature and further analyzed by statistical methods. In addition, you will also work on IODP materials from the recent EXP339 (Gulf of Cadiz) to study the dynamics of Mediterranean outflow waters through this critical climate transition. The results are expected to shed new light upon the long-term Pliocene intensification of the Mediterranean outflow between 3.5-3.3 Ma, the outstanding cooling event during the Mammoth geomagnetic subchron, and the possible effects of major tectonic pulses on the Mediterranean deepwater circulation.

For a limited amount of time, the Ph.D. candidate will assist in the teaching program of the department.


We are looking for highly motivated individuals with a MSc or equivalent degree in Geology, Biology, Biogeology, Physical Geography, Climate and Atmospheric Sciences or related fields, which are highly interested in paleoclimate (i.e. stable isotope, climate modeling) research.

Candidates are expected to communicate easily in English, both verbally and in writing. Candidates should be able to work in a team, but independently.

Terms of employment:

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time PhD position, at first for one year. Contingent on a (yearly) satisfactory performance this may be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The first evaluation will take place approximately after 6 months of employment, the second after 9 months. After the 9 months evaluation the decision will be made whether an extension of the contract to a total period of 4 years will be offered to the employee.

Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The salary starts at € 2,042.- in the first year and increases to € 2,612.- gross per month in the fourth year. The salary supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year (salary rates per 1-1-2012). We also offer a pension scheme, a health insurance allowance and flexible employment conditions

Further details:

For informal enquiries, contact Prof.dr. Lucas Lourens at

You may also wish to visit the Faculty website at:

How to apply:

Visit, find the equivalent of this advertisement and fill in the application form. Please, attach your motivation for the position, a statement of your research interests, a curriculum vitae, and the names and contact addresses of two referees (with e-mail contact addresses).

Application deadline is March 15, 2012.


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