Two PhD positions in modelling impacts of surface water floods for developing impact-based warning systems

University of Bern
October 02, 2023
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Two PhD positions in modelling impacts of surface water floods for

developing impact-based warning systems 100 %

Institute of Geography, University of Bern Start of employment: 1.6.2024 / Duration: 3.5 or 4 years

We invite applications for two 4-yr PhD positions at the Mobiliar Lab for natural risks at the University of Bern www. The Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks is a joint research initiative between the University of Bern's Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and La Mobilière. The main focuses of its research are hail, flooding and storms, the processes involved in each of these phe-nomena and the damage each one causes. The Mobiliar Lab's work lies at the crossroads between theory and practice, with the aim of achieving results that will benefit the public. The two closely related re- search projects aim to set up a modeling chain to estimate damages from surface water floods in quasi-real time and to visualize the results so that they are interpretable for stakeholders.

The PhD students will be enrolled at the Climate Science graduate school of the Oeschger Centre. See here for details on the graduate programme: www.


Position 1: Physical modelling

For this position we are looking for a person with interest and expertise in handling large and diverse atmospheric data sets and ideally in weather forecast verification. The goal of this project is to set-up a prototype web application that visualizes the occurrence of damage-relevant surface water flood events for Switzerland in quasi-real time. The visualization should also capture the uncertainties in a way that is understandable for the stakeholders. To reach this goal, the damages associated with surface weather floods need to be modeled based on observations and weather forecast data.

Position 2: Vulnerability and stakeholder involvement

For this position we are looking for a person with interest in combining data science, vulnerability re-search, and stakeholder knowledge. To develop user- targeted and impact-based early warning systems, the vulnerability of socio- economic systems or infrastructure against natural hazards must be studied. Location-based thresholds of hydrometeorological parameters exceeding the vulnerability of infrastruc-ture must be defined and the impact to infrastructure must be modelled. To define user-targeted impact warning messages, the hazard parameters and the related vulnerability must be linked with mitigation measures listed in the contingency plans of the infrastructure operators. Together with stakeholders, modelling systems and decision-making systems are aligned with the developed impact-based warning system. The research foci of the two PhD positions are complementary and the PhDs are expected to collaborate closely with each other.


Requirements are a master's degree in atmospheric, climate, hydrology, or environmental science, but applications from other relevant backgrounds such as statistics or physics and/or operational / industry experience with demonstrated knowledge of atmospheric/hydrological science will also be considered. Besides being enthusiastic about applied research, applicants should have a strong quantitative back-ground and experience with handling large data sets. Solid programming skills are required for both posi-tions. The ability to communicate effectively is desired. Applicants are expected to be fluent in English, knowledge of German or French is an asset.

We offer

The expected starting date is 1.6.2024 with some flexibility and the positions (100% working contract, salary follows University of Bern regulations) are available for a duration of 3.5 years with the possibility to extend to a maximum of 4 years.


We look forward to receiving your application with the relevant documents (cover letter, CV, diploma certificates, a link to your MSc thesis (draft or final version), two professional references). The application is open immediately until 30 September 2023. Interviews will take place in early mid- October 2023. Please send one PDF containing all documents for to

[email protected]

The University of Bern encourages an inclusive culture. Applications from qualified women are highly encouraged.

Further information about the Climate Impacts group can be found on our website www. and about the Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks on www. For further information regarding the position, please contact Olivia Romppainen for position 1 and Andreas Zischg for position 2.

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