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Job advertisement PhD position at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium on Extreme events

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European Geosciences Union

PhD position at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium on Extreme events

PhD position at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium on Extreme events


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

Preferred education

Application deadline
Open until the position is filled

14 December 2020

Job description

The position is advertised as part of the project EDIPI, European weather Extremes: DrIvers, Predictability and Impacts, funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 956396 ( The project will start in March 2021. The successful candidate will join a network of 14 PhD Fellows (ESRs), pursuing their research training on the dynamics, predictability and impacts of temperature, precipitation (including drought) and surface wind extremes over Europe. The three overarching scientific questions that will be tackled are: Why does a specific type of weather extreme occur? How can we use this knowledge to better predict it? And finally, what are the likely impacts once it does occur?

The PhD candidate will be located most of the time at the Royal Meteorological Institute ( in Brussels (Belgium), will visit Tel Aviv University (Israël) and the LSCE (France) for extensive training periods, and will also follow the PhD programme of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB,

Project Title:
investigation of extreme climate instabilities

Principal supervisor: Dr Stéphane Vannitsem, Senior Researcher at the RMIB and lecturer at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Promotor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB): Professor Thomas Gilbert

The project will leverage a recent approach – covariant vectors – applying it to a hierarchy of coupled climate models. In the first phase, the PhD candidate will investigate covariant vectors in a hierarchy of coupled ocean-atmosphere systems (using the Modular Arbitrary Order Ocean Atmosphere Model, MAOOAM), and elucidate the impact of low-frequency variability and transitions between climate states on the properties of these vectors. Building on the first phase, the candidate will then investigate the properties of background flows leading to extreme instability, as defined by the covariant vectors, in the same model hierarchy. The dynamical (and geometric) properties of the covariant vectors associated with these extreme situations will also be analysed.

The relation between the energetics of the solutions of the models and the instability properties will be explored, with emphasis on the extremely unstable or stable states. This approach will specifically be applied to extreme wind speed, which can be effectively emulated in the MAOOAM system. The candidate will leverage tools from dynamical systems theory and large deviation theory. Under climate change, the (short-to medium-range) predictability properties of the flow may vary. The candidate will investigate extensively the effect of the climate change on the instability properties of the flow, using concepts such as Snapshot and Pullback attractors. The impact on the extremal instability properties and on extreme wind speed episodes will also be investigated. This work will again use a hierarchy of MAOOAM simulations, in which the radiative response of the atmosphere will be modified, and also in more realistic climate models.

How to apply

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically to Dr Stéphane Vannitsem ( The deadline for applications is 15 February 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.