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PhD position on urban climate and CO2 modelling in Dübendorf

EMPA (European Master of Public Administration Consortium) is a network of European schools, that offer master programs in public administration.


Project background 
The doctoral project is part of the interdisciplinary research project , funded by MeteoSwiss within the framework of Switzerland's Global Climate Observing System and Global Atmosphere Watch programmes (GAW-CH, GCOS-CH). UrbaNature targets to create new knowledge and develop new methodologies on observing and simulating the role of vegetation in carbon, energy, and water cycles in the urban environment. Within this project, four doctoral students will collaborate closely, co-supervised by leading scientist from the University of Basel, Empa, ETH Zurich, and University of Zurich. UrbaNature builds on the comprehensive measurement and modeling infrastructure that has been developed in the EU project .
Your tasks 
The doctoral project will develop and apply an urban climate and CO2 model based on the Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic Weather and Climate Model (ICON) and model extensions (co-)developed by our group. The aim is to simulate city-wide effects of urban vegetation on energy, water and CO2 fluxes and to enable more accurate weather and climate simulations in and around urban landscapes. In more detail, the tasks include:

  • Set up ICON-ART simulations with an existing single-layer urban canopy model to study urban climate and CO2 exchange over the two cities. 
  • Integrate the multilayer urban canopy model BEP-Tree into ICON-ART to better represent the interactions between urban vegetation and the atmosphere. 
  • Improve the representation of vegetation CO2 and H2O fluxes through a consistent representation of the underlying ecophysiological processes. 
  • Evaluate the model simulations against existing and new UrbaNature meteorological and CO2 observations in the two cities (in-situ, remote sensing and Eddy flux measurements). 
  • Assess the overall effects of vegetation on urban climate and study its potential for urban heat island mitigation and CO2 sequestration. 
  • Collaborate with the other three doctoral students who will focus on urban plant ecophysiology, plant-water relations, and urban vegetation remote sensing, respectively. 
  • Publish results in scientific journals and present your work at international conferences. 

Required skills 
  • Master's degree in environmental sciences, geosciences, computational sciences, physics, or a related discipline. 
  • Strong programming skills, e.g., Python, Fortran, C, Linux shell scripting. 
  • Fluency in English is required; basic knowledge of German is an advantage.
The position is available from March 2023 and will remain open until filled. Working place will be Empa in Dübendorf, Switzerland.

For further information
about the position please contact Prof. Dr Dominik Brunner  and visit our websites and

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of two referees. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, David Heusser, Human Resources, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.

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