November 2017
Message 62

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[Met-jobs] PhD Automatic space-borne detection of atmospheric natural hazards (Barcelona, Spain)

From Alex Marti <>
Date Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:02:55 +0100

PhD opportunity (INPhINIT Program) at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center: Automatic space-borne detection of atmospheric natural hazards.


INPhINIT, ”la Caixa” Doctoral Fellowship Programme is  devoted to attracting international Early-Stage Researchers to the top Spanish research centres in the areas technology, engineering, physics, mathematics, life and health sciences. INPhINIT recruits per call 57 Early-Stage Researchers of any nationality, who enjoy a 3-year employment contract at the Research Centre of their choice among those selected and awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (“Severo Ochoa" centres of excellence and "Maria de Maeztu" units of excellence) and the Spanish Ministry of Health ("Carlos III centres of excellence").


- Research Project / Research Group Description:

Atmospheric dispersion of hazardous substances (e.g. volcanic eruptions, sandstorms) influences many economic markets, and poses a variety of problems to the aviation industry. For example, the presence of airborne volcanic ash at low and jet-cruise atmospheric levels compromises the safety of aircraft operations and forces re-routing of aircraft to prevent encounters with volcanic ash clouds. The forecast of these catastrophic events relies on the development, implementation and execution of computational intensive atmospheric transport models in order to simulate the dispersal of each hazardous substance.

In the event of an eruption, the ultimate decision to alter Air Traffic Management (ATM) or close airspace is based on ash plume forecasts, produced using volcanic ash transport and dispersion (VATD) models. Observations from automated systems employing remote sensing data, such as satellites and their sensors, are a critical tool to track and validate the dispersal of hazardous volcanic plumes. Their high spatial and temporal resolutions make them particularly suitable for near real-time model validation. However, matching satellite imagery and VATD model forecasts is not a straightforward because the satellite observations and VATD model forecasts are often not readily comparable, and require, therefore, to be applied manually.

The need of HPC to run VATD models in an operational way and the lack of customer-based solutions to digest and validate this data prevents the aviation industry to access to this information in suitable way to enhance their decision-making during such events. The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), a world-renowned institution in the development of Computer Applications for Science and Engineering (CASE), has state-of-the-art tools for modeling volcanic ash dispersal in the atmosphere (e.g. FALL3D, NMMB-MONARCH-ASH) and assess the impact of these natural hazards (SORT-ATM) across multiple industries (e.g. aviation, engine manufactures).


- Job position description:

The aim of the Ph.D. candidate will be to develop satellite-supported procedures and algorithms to rapidly determine the distribution of ash in the air and compare it with the outcome of the BSC VADT model forecasts. The candidate will employ these procedures to establishing an operational validation protocol for forecast-based volcanic ash products. The protocol should:

  • Quantify and understand the spatial and temporal variation in the skill of volcanic ash simulations when compared to satellite observations.
  • Assess the behavior of data assimilation methods.
  • Quantify the sensitivity of forecast skill to changes in model formulation.
  • Collaborate with researchers in charge of the CASE Atmospheric Impact Services to develop measures for air traffic management to improve the ability to react in the case of future volcanic eruptions. 
  • Provide credible scientific expertise to improve risk management across multiple industries following the international regulations established by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  

·        Candidates should hold a MEng or MSc degree in Remote Sensing or Aeronautics degree with focus on atmospheric sciences. A qualification equivalent to first-class honours degree is preferred. Excellent computational skills and interest in geostationary satellite information and aerospace are expected. Familiarity with atmospheric dispersion modeling and natural hazards is not necessary but will be considered an asset.

Candidates should be ready to ready to start the INPhINIT Program by September / October 2018.


Dr. Arnau Folch (

Dr. Alejandro Marti (


Go to the INPhINIT website (, select the Barcelona Supercomputing Center as a Research Center and click on “ PhD Automatic space-borne detection of atmospheric natural hazards”. Then START THE APPLICATION. 



Barcelona Supercomputing Center BSC-CNS (

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) is the leading supercomputing center in Spain. The mission of BSC is to research, develop and manage information technologies in order to facilitate scientific progress. BSC combines HPC service provision and R&D into both computer and computational science (life, earth and engineering sciences) under one roof, and currently has over 460 staff from 44 countries.

- Computer Sciences: This is the centre’s largest department. Its mission is to research and influence the building, programming and use of the computers of the future, in close cooperation with the leading companies in the sector.
- Case: The mission of the Computer Applications in Science and Engineering (CASE) Department is to develop new computational strategies to simulate complex problems capable of running efficiently on modern supercomputers.
- Earth Sciences: The aim of this department is to carry out research into modelling and understanding the behavior of the earth’s system, with a particular focus on atmospheric and climatic processes.
- Life Sciences: This department uses computational tools to understand life processes. Its research focuses on aspects of computational biology, ranging from bioinformatics for genomics to computational biochemistry.

Most of BSC-CNS’s research lines are developed within the framework of European programs, and the center also does basic and applied research in collaboration with leading companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Nvidia, Repsol and Iberdrola. The quality of our investigation has been recognized twice by the Spanish government with the Severo Ochoa Excellence Center grant for cutting edge Spanish Science, and since April 2015 the Center has been awarded with the ‘HR Excellence in research’ logo from the European Commission.


- Address

C/ Jordi Girona 29, Nexus II, 08034 Barcelona, Spain

- Group Disciplines

Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering Panel

Alex Martí, Ph.D.
Dpt. Computer Applications in Science and Engineering
Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS)
Edificio NEXUS II, Oficina 3A
c) Jordi Girona 29
08034 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 93 413 7122

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