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Job advertisement PhD position at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium on Tipping points

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European Geosciences Union

PhD position at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium on Tipping points

PhD position at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium on Tipping points


The Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium

The Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI) is a federal scientific institute that provides meteorological services and does research about weather and climate. The mission of the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium is to provide reliable weather, climate and geophysical services, based on high quality observations and research, in a context of national and international cooperation. The Unit in which the PhD candidate will work (The dynamical Meteorology and Climatology Unit, is investigating the variability and predictability of atmospheric (and climate) processes by developing and using the tools of dynamical systems theory, chaos theory and stochastic processes.


Brussels, Belgium


Relevant divisions
Atmospheric Sciences (AS)
Climate: Past, Present & Future (CL)
Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences (NP)


Student / Graduate / Internship

max. 40000 € / Year

Required education

Application deadline
Open until the position is filled

14 December 2020

Job description

This 3-year PhD position is posted as part of the exciting CriticalEarth project, Multiscale Critical Transitions in the Earth System, funded through the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme under Grant number 956170. The successful candidate will join a network of 15 PhD Fellows (ESRs), pursuing their research training on new methods for assessing the mechanisms and associated risks of critical transitions in the climate. The focus will be on investigating how complex mathematics can be used to predict and avoid irreversible climate change. The position will offer you an excellent background, working within a strong, cross-disciplinary network among leading Universities and research institutions across Europe and with contacts to industry, governmental- and non-governmental institutions. The PhD candidate will be located most of the time at the Royal Meteorological Institute ( in Brussels (Belgium), will visit the University of Utrecht (NL) and the University of Reading (UK) for extensive training periods and will also follow the PhD programme of the UCLouvain ( The project starts on March 1st 2021 and the PhD candidates can be hired between March 1st 2021 to September 30, 2021.

Project Title at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium:
Impact of climate change on low-frequency variability and predictability in a hierarchy of climate models

Principal supervisor: Dr Stéphane Vannitsem, Senior Researcher at the RMIB and lecturer at the Free University of Brussels.

Promotor at the Université Catholique de Louvain: Professor Michel Crucifix


The atmosphere and the climate system display erratic dynamics whose main property is sensitivity to initial conditions. This property is the generic signature of deterministic chaos. Systems displaying such dynamics have been studied for a long time on theoretical and practical grounds. One main characteristic of the solutions of such systems is that they are organized around a dense set of unstable periodic orbits (UPOs). One current conjecture is that these orbits are cornerstones in the development of atmospheric blockings, or decadal variability in the extratropical atmosphere. In a world impacted by climate change, these unstable structures should also display changes that could considerably affect the emergence of blocking or decadal low-frequency variability. Analysing how these UPOs are modified under climate change will lead to a better understanding how climate change will affect the low-frequency variability present in the atmosphere. This investigation will be performed in a hierarchy of climate models of increasing complexity using tools of nonlinear sciences.

How to apply

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically to Dr Stéphane Vannitsem ( The deadline for applications is 31 January 2021, 23:59 CET.

Please include

  • Cover Letter, stating which PhD project you are applying for and detailing your enthusiasm and background for applying for the specific PhD project
  • CV with relevant work experience (if any)
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
  • A list of 3 reference names

For more information, please contact Dr Stéphane Vannitsem

The Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and we welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. The selection will be exclusively based on qualification without regard to gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or age.