December 2011
Message 69

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[Met-jobs] PhD vacancy on global modeling of atmospheric CH4

From "Houweling, S. (Sander)" <>
To "" <>
Date Mon, 19 Dec 2011 09:50:50 +0000

Specialists from various disciplines work together at SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research to push back the frontiers of technology and with this to advance the boundaries of scientific knowledge. SRON is considered to be a global leader in the area of earth and space science, due to the space instruments it develops for the satellites of ESA, NASA and JAXA.

 Our Earth & Planetary Science Division currently has a position for a:

Ph.D student (OIO)

on ‘inverse modeling of the global sources of methane using satellite instruments’


Project Outline

Methane is the second most important human produced greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide. For a reliable forecast of future climate change it is essential to improve our understanding of the global cycle of this gas. Methane is investigated using a ground-based monitoring network and satellite instruments to map the global distribution of methane in the atmosphere. The so-called inverse modeling technique is used to translate these measurements into corresponding emissions at the Earth’s surface. In the case of long-lived greenhouse gases, such as methane, it is a challenge for the satellites to meet the required level of accuracy. The most successful method so far is the so-called proxy method, which makes use of the ratio of methane over carbon dioxide. It is assumed that the contribution of carbon dioxide is well enough understood to use this method for studying methane. However, with the improved measurement quality obtained using the GOSAT instrument this assumption is starting to become an important limitation. The aim of this project is to develop a new method for the interpretation of proxy measurements, in which the ratio is explicitly modeled and the contributions of methane and carbon dioxide are derived separately. This method will be developed and tested using GOSAT and applied to the full time series of SCIAMACHY, which by now covers nearly a decade and provides useful insight in the recent evolution of global methane. 


·     Coupling of existing inverse modeling codes for methane and carbon dioxide for inverse modeling of proxy measurements;

·     Model validation and emission estimation using the available measurements;

·     Presentation of results at international conferences and publication in scientific journals.

This project will be carried out in close collaboration with the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU).


·     We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a M.Sc. in physics, applied mathematics or related studies;

·     Experience in computer programming is compulsory, preferably in Python and Fortran 90;

·     The successful candidate is capable of working both independently and in a team;

·     He or she has a good knowledge of the English language.

Employment conditions

Employment of this full-time position at SRON-Utrecht is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) and will be for a period of 4 years. The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of NWO for PhD students starting in the first year with €2.037,- gross per month, rising to €2.610,- in the fourth year of employment on a full-time basis.

NWO has good secondary employment conditions such as:

  • An end of year bonus of 8,33% of the gross yearly salary;
  • At least 42 days of vacation leave a year on full-time basis;
  • An excellent pension scheme;
  • Options for (additional) personal development;
  • Excellent facilities for parental leave;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross yearly salary.

For information:

For further information about the position, please contact S. Houweling, telephone +31-(0)30-253.22.91. More information about SRON can be found at

Letter of application

Applicants should send a motivation letter with CV and the name(s) and address(es) of reference(s) (incl. phone and e‑mail) preferably via mail to or by regular mail to: SRON, Department of Personnel and Organization, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands. Please state the vacancy number SRON 11‑16 in the subject of your mail, or on letter and envelope and mention the source of advertising. Applications will be accepted until 31 January 2012.

No commercial propositions please.

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