PhD position on arctic vegetation and energy balance
The project is fully funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for a duration of 36 months, starting 1 September 2012. The applicant will be enrolled in a graduate school at the University of Zurich, supervised by Dr. G. Schaepman-Strub (http://www.ieu.uzh.ch/staff/leaders/schaepman.html), Prof. Dr. M. Schaepman (http://www.geo.uzh.ch/en/units/rsl/about-us/staff/schaepman-michael), and Prof. Dr. M. Wild (http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/wild).
Climate change in the Arctic is more extensive and faster than expected. Changes in the physical system will lead to vegetation shifts, such as shrub encroachment that can already be observed in many regions of the Arctic. The vegetation changes will ultimately feedback to the climate system through altering energy and carbon fluxes. Potential feedbacks through altered energy fluxes include decreasing albedo and increasing soil shading with increasing shrub growth and encroachment, shifts in thermal radiation partitioning and decreasing insolation of the permafrost with decreasing moss layer thickness, changes in species competition through shifts of light available for photosynthesis within the canopy. Changes in energy fluxes are closely linked to the carbon cycle through processes such as productivity, nutrient availability influenced by soil temperature, greenhouse gas exchange with the atmosphere (e.g. methane emissions), and potential release of large carbon stocks currently locked in the permafrost.
The aim of the project is to improve the understanding of the tundra energy balance, specifically the dependence of radiative transfer on vegetation type. The successful applicant will simulate shortwave radiation fluxes for selected tundra vegetation types based on a 3D radiative transfer model (DART) and in situ validation measurements. The results of the project will contribute to an increased accuracy of shortwave energy budget predictions and their feedback on permafrost and climate, due to current and predicted vegetation compositional changes in the vulnerable Arctic system.
The PhD work will include initialization of the radiative transfer model (DART) for different tundra vegetation types and simulation of scenarios. Therefore, programming experience (C++, IDL) is an advantage. Parameterization and validation of the model is performed with field data, acquired in the north-eastern Siberian tundra. Applicants must be prepared to spend several weeks each summer under simple living conditions in the tundra, running field experiments and handling scientific instrumentation. We will closely collaborate with the Russian Academy of Science and two Dutch groups on site (Dr. M. Heijmans, WUR, Dr. K. van Huissteden, VU). The ideal applicant will have a strong background in natural sciences, and a master’s degree in remote sensing, micrometeorology, ecology, climate sciences or a closely related field.
Application deadline and further information
Please send your application as one pdf-file (including application letter, CV, transcript/grades of MSc, publication list, names and contact details of two referees) to maja.weilenmann-at-ieu.uzh.ch no later than May 13, 2012. For further questions please contact gabriela.schaepman-at-ieu.uzh.ch.
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