PhD position: Multi-disciplinary Hazard Mapping Framework for Critical Infrastructure on Terrestrial Permafrost

mandag 04 jun 18

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Frist 19. juni 2018
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DTU Civil Engineering is inviting applications for a 3-year PhD position starting September 2018 as a part of the EU H2020 research project “Nunataryuk” related climate change and permafrost degradation impacts on Arctic coastal communities.
Why this research is needed
Communities in the Arctic are typically isolated and strongly dependent on well-functioning local infrastructure to sustain business opportunities, health and general well-being. Such communities are vulnerable to climate change and the derived impacts such as permafrost thaw and increased coastal erosion, which poses challenges to the design, operation and maintenance of built infrastructure. Technically based decision support tools are needed to help municipal and regional governments take informed decisions on infrastructure expansion and maintenance in the face of climatic, industrial and social changes.
Project Description
A methodology for community scale hazard mapping focusing on infrastructure in permafrost terrain will be developed to provide a decision support tool to local and municipal governments in the Arctic. Existing state-of-the-art hazard mapping tools based on geographical information system (GIS) themes of geology, elevation and aspect, will augmented by integration of surface geophysical data and remote sensing products. Furthermore, a community scale permafrost modelling tool will be integrated to evaluate the future thaw degradation and failure potentials of critical infrastructures under the influence of a warming climate.
The multi-disciplinary methodology will be applied to hazard mapping in selected Arctic communities, and tasks will span from archival studies to field investigations and lab-experiments to establish ground properties and produce data for model validation. Special attention will be given to permafrost modelling and the presence of saline permafrost, as well as the effect of snow distribution (and properties of the snow pack) in an urban Arctic setting.
The project will integrate with parallel activities on permafrost model development, geotechnical and geophysical characterization of permafrost sediments, as well as development of remote sensing algorithms for infrastructure mapping and characterization. Furthermore, collaboration within social sciences is anticipated in order to progress from hazard mapping to risk evaluation, which involves evaluation of societal impacts. The project will be conducted in a broad international collaboration in the context of the Nunataryuk project (EU H2020).

The candidate should have a master's degree in civil engineering or geoscience, or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree, with good modelling and programming experience, good analytical skills, and the ability to work in a cross disciplinary environment. A good command of the English language, both spoken and written, is essential. Field and/or lab experience with mapping and classification of permafrost soils is helpful. The candidate is expected to be self-motivated and to publish the project results in international peer-reviewed journals.
Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.  
The assessment of the applicants will be made by Associate Professor Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen in collaboration with Assistant professor Thomas Guldborg Petersen, the section for Geotechnics and Geology.
We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

The main workplace is DTU Lyngby Campus, but the project will require travel and exchange in Greenland and at relevant Arctic universities.
Further information
Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen (
Please submit your online application no later than 19 June 2018.

Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.
All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.
DTU Civil Engineering develops and utilizes science and technical knowledge for the benefit of society through a sustainable development of construction and the built environment. As part of a strong university, the department provides research, study programmes, innovation and research-based consultancy of the highest quality in civil engineering. The Department develops new knowledge and solutions for the challenges facing the construction industry based on classic disciplines of building research, as well as the monitoring and decoding of physical phenomena,—we combine theory and practice.
DTU Civil Engineering has a special role in researching, educating and developing new construction engineering solutions for Arctic settings, for the benefit of society in both Denmark and Greenland. The department has a scientific staff of about 80 persons, 60 PhD students, and a technical/administrative support staff of about 50 persons.
DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.