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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 1,300 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 Groundwater and Landscape Evolution Modelling (f_m_x)

Reference Number 6131

The evolution of landscapes containing carbonate rocks is arduous to accurately simulate with most landscape evolution models. A significant amount of water is routed in the subsurface and this breaks down the common, and fundamental, assumption that drainage area is a predictable proxy for river discharge. As a result, the effective watersheds at the land and groundwater surfaces can differ and the geometry of surface catchments cannot inform landscape evolution alone.

We are looking to hiring a postdoctoral research scientist to study the role of subsurface water flow in landscape evolution at timescales of ca. 10 kyr to several Myrs. The specific research targets are open but could be the ways groundwater can promote or hinder river capture; the effect of lithologies of variable permeability for relief evolution; the role of subsurface flow in stabilizing closed basins in mountains; or the effect of non-uniform permeability in three-dimensionally resolved bedrock. The researcher would be tasked with the development or adaptation of a groundwater model and its integration in a landscape evolution framework (CHONK, Gailleton et al., in prep.). The exact objectives of the project will be defined together with the successful candidate. Depending on their skills and interests, the work could focus more on numerical development and improvement of models, or more on more fundamental hydrogeological work necessary for the integration of groundwater and surface process models.

We also welcome and support the development of outreach activities using numerical models of landscape evolution as part of the postdoctoral project if the successful candidate is interested.

The successful candidate should have the vision and ability to participate in collaborative and interdisciplinary research activities and discussions within our research group and with local and international collaborators. The main collaborators will be Luca Malatesta (group leader at GFZ) and Boris Gailleton (postdoc at U. Rennes). Researchers in the Earth Surface Process Modelling section work on a broad range of themes and come from widely different backgrounds. We are committed to a collaborative environment to ensure that members can rely on each other’s support. We value the development of meaningful skills and experience for the personal careers of our members. We believe that a diverse team is a stronger team.

Your responsibilities:

  • Integrate a groundwater model in a landscape evolution framework
  • Calibrate the coupled model with existing datasets
  • Anchor the study of coupled groundwater-surface process models in an up-to-date bibliographic context
  • Investigate the influence of groundwater flow on landscape evolution based on numerical simulations
  • Actively engage in scientific discussion and activities with other members of the section and collaborating sections at the GFZ
  • Present, publish and communicate research results at scientific meetings and in scholarly journals

Your qualifications:

  • PhD in Earth Sciences or Hydrology (by the time of contract start)
  • MSc in natural sciences, computer sciences, or equivalent
  • Demonstrated advanced knowledge in the development of hydrogeological models and/or in the field of hydrogeology applied in a geomorphological context
  • Demonstrated experience in a scientific programming language (Python and/or C++ are strongly desirable but not a must-have)
  • Demonstrated familiarity with long timescales (10 kyr – Myr) and the relevant climatic and (hydro-) geological processes operating during them
  • Demonstrated familiarity with geomorphological and/or hydrogeological dynamics at landscape scale
  • Desirable familiarity with landscape evolution models
  • Demonstrated excellence in publication (articles in revision will be taken into account)
  • Demonstrated capacity for international teamwork and excellent communication skills
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English


Start date: earliest 01/07/22, latest 01/10/22
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

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Possibility to live in and commute from Berlin
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Possibility to follow, and also teach, short courses at GFZ
  • 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

Have we piqued your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 5th June 2022. Please use our online application form only.

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@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@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. Luca Malatesta via email at luca.malatesta@gfz-potsdam.de. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Buge under +49 (0)331-288-28787.

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