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The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,500 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth.
As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities.
For Section 4.7: Earth Surface Process Modelling (Department 4, Geosystems), we are looking for a:

Postdoctoral Researcher in Extreme Precipitation Events, Erosional Thresholds and Landscape Evolution Modelling (f_m_x)

Reference Number 7322

Understanding erosion processes in high relief environments is hampered by the timescale difference between long-term fluvial incision (0.1-10 Myr) and short, intense rainfall events that trigger erosive events. In order to quantify the effect of rainfall variability on fluvial incision, it is necessary to determine erosional thresholds. To do so, a realistic hydrology model must be coupled with a stochastic-threshold model of incision. These parameters are embedded within the framework of the FastScape landscape evolution model developed by J. Braun and E. Deal (now at ETH, Zurich) and currently used by members of Section 4.7.

We are looking to hire a postdoctoral research scientist to quantify the impact of extreme precipitation events on long-term river incision in mountainous landscapes by using FastScape. Specific targets include, but are not limited to, tropical volcanic islands (particularly the Reunion hotspot), active orogens (such as the Colombian Andes), and “dead” orogens. The successful candidate can also propose other settings depending on his/her interests.  The advertised position does not include a specific budget for field work. However, data collection in the field (like bedload size measurement) is possible for calibrating the model, provided the candidate obtains external fundings. The postdoctoral researcher should also investigate the future evolution of river incision by testing various scenarios of extreme precipitation events, such as cyclone frequency/intensity as predicted by IPCC reports.

The main adviser will be Dr. Loraine Gourbet (working group leader at GFZ). The postdoctoral researcher will be expected to actively collaborate with other researchers, within and outside of the Earth Surface Process Modelling section, including Jean Braun (section leader), Hui Tang, Luca Malatesta and Richard Ott at GFZ, and Kimberly Huppert (now at the City College of New York). The researcher should also be eager to establish new international collaborations that will be beneficial for his/her career and for the GFZ.

Your responsibilities:

  • Quantify erosional thresholds in bedrock river channels in volcanic and orogenic settings using a stochastic-threshold landscape evolution model
  • Investigate the future evolution of steep landscapes in relation to rainfall changes due to the ongoing climate change 
  • Publish in international peer-reviewed journals and present your results at international conferences
  • Contribute to writing proposals for external funding
  • Actively collaborate with members of the section and, ideally, other sections at the GFZ

Your qualifications:

  • PhD in Earth Sciences (doctoral candidates can apply provided PhD diploma is obtained before 01.09.2023)
  • MSc in Earth sciences or hydrology (or equivalent)
  • Demonstrated experience in scientific programming (preferably Python or Matlab)
  • Demonstrated experience with landscape evolution models (knowing FastScape is a plus but it is not a must-have)
  • Demonstrated excellence in publication (submitted articles will be considered)
  • Demonstrated excellent communication skills and capacity for international teamwork
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • Institute day-care centre on site
  • Working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Start date: Earliest 1st May 2023, latest 1st September 2023
Fixed-term: 24 months
Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.
Working hours: Full-time (currently 39 h/week); The position is generally suitable for part-time work.
Place of work: Potsdam

Have we piqued your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 2nd April 2023

Please use our online application form only to submit the following documents:

  • A cover letter describing how your profile fits the advertised position
  • A detailed CV with your full publication list along with the names of two potential referees

Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at]gfz-potsdam.de, who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]gfz-potsdam.de.

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Dr. Loraine Gourbet via email at gourbet[at]gfz-potsdam.de. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-6264-28787.

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