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Postdoc (m/f/d) BMBF ThinIce

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Closing date
3 Jan 2024

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Earth Science
Job Type
Employment - Hours
Full time
Fixed term

Job Details

Area of research:

Scientific / postdoctoral posts

Job description:Postdoc (m/f/d) BMBF ThinIce

In the Arctic permafrost region, near-surface air temperatures are rising up to four times faster than the global average. This rapid temperature rise is fundamentally changing soil stability and hydrological conditions in the permafrost regions and poses a substantial threat to industrial legacies. Permafrost, once considered a long-term solution for the deposition of waste from exploration activities, is now a cause for concern as thawing could mobilize contaminants. The ThinIce project is dedicated to the in-depth study of drilling mud sumps in Canada's Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories.

We are searching for a Researcher who is eager to investigate the ecological risks emerging from drilling mud sumps under thawing permafrost conditions. Together with research groups at RWTH Aachen, the University of Hannover, and TU Braunschweig we aim to investigate the potential environmental risks posed by mud sumps caused by recent and future destabilization of the frozen ground.

The major goals of the project are:
  • Evaluate the susceptibility of drilling mud sumps under climate change scenarios.
  • Examine the influence of hazardous mud sump compounds on pivotal microbial species that define the ecological balance of permafrost soil ecosystems.
  • Gain insight into the resilience of thawing permafrost soil ecosystems in relation to contamination, focusing on their inherent capacity for self-restoration.
  • Appraise vulnerabilities concerning broader contamination scenarios arising from changes in the hydrological pathways that regulate the transport, concentration, and persistence of contaminates.
  • Collaboratively develop and implement sustainable strategies for risk mitigation in partnership with local stakeholders and communities.

You will:
  • Coordinate the research project in close exchange with all partners of the research alliance.
  • Conduct own original research on climate change impacts on thaw slump and permafrost stability (field based, modeling, remote sensing).
  • Organize and lead field campaigns to research sites in the Mackenzie Delta Region.
  • Foster the collaboration with research partners in Canada and exchange with local stakeholders and representatives.

  • A Ph.D. in geoscience, climate science, hydrology, earth science, or other related disciplines.
  • Experience in field research in the Arctic and the willingness and capability to lead multi-week field campaigns.
  • A record of scientific publications demonstrating the ability to conduct independent research.
  • Experience in modeling thermal-hydrological soil processes.
  • Strong management and communication skills are expected.
  • Strong programming, statistical, and data analysis skills are required.
  • Fluency in English (written and spoken) is required.

Additional skills and knowledge
  • Experience with electrical resistivity surveys (or more generally, geophysical surveys) would be an asset.
  • Expertise in permafrost, infrastructure, and industrial sites would be an asset.

Further Information
The AWI is characterised by

The AWI is characterised by
  • our scientific success - excellent research
  • collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
  • opportunities to develop – on the job and towards other positions
  • an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world
  • flexible working hours and the possibility of mobile working up to 50% of regular working hours
  • Health promotion
  • support services and a culture of reconciling work and family
  • Occupational pension provision (VBL)

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of employees who are women, and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

Applicants with disabilities will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

This research center is part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. With more than 42,000 employees and an annual budget of over € 5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation.


The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges to assure the future of our society. With more than 39,000 people on staff in 18 national research centres, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. The name Helmholtz stands for concerted research in which networks form the key principle behind inquiring thought and action. Concerted research is efficient and flexible.

The profile of the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association performs cutting-edge research which contributes substantially to solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry. To succeed in meeting these responsibilities, Helmholtz concentrates its work in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, as well as Aeronautics, Space and Transport. Within each of these fields, research programs are developed by our scientists and regularly evaluated by renowned international experts. Their evaluation forms the basis for the programme-oriented funding that is allocated to Helmholtz research. Within the six research fields, Helmholtz scientists cooperate with each other and with external partners – working across disciplinary, organizational and national borders.

Promoting young academics

Helmholtz scientists, a high-performance infrastructure and modern and efficient research management are the ingredients to the Helmholtz Association‘s success and global impact.
Promoting young researchers is a major priority for the Helmholtz Association. Its qualification schemes for young researchers are geared mainly towards PhD students, postdocs and young managers. The Helmholtz Association has set high standards for its talent management. Its strategy begins with targeted recruitment of highly qualified staff at all levels, followed by comprehensive support aimed at further developing their potential. Ensuring equal opportunities is an essential element in all talent management activities undertaken by the Helmholtz Association.

The Helmholtz Graduate Schools and Research Schools at almost all Helmholtz Centres provide doctoral students with the general and specific skills and training they need, as well as ample opportunity to network with other working groups. The period following a doctorate is decisive in determining the direction and success of a scientific career. For this reason, we are about to establish Career Centers for postdoctoral researchers in the Helmholtz centres and a mentoring programme for especially gifted PostDocs in order to foster career orientation. This equips young researchers with the skills they need to go on to head a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group, for example. As a Young Investigator Group leader, junior scientists can independently set up their own group to conduct research in their specialist field.

Within its talent management strategy, the Helmholtz Association pays special attention to the increased recruitment of talented female scientists both from Germany and abroad. To this end, there are currently two funding programs supporting this policy Funding of first-time appointments of excellent women scientists (W2/W3)’ and ‘Funding to recruit top-level international women scientists (W3)’.

The increasing complexity of the content, structures and framework conditions of scientific work today requires researchers to organise their projects, their employees and, of course, themselves in a highly professional and effective way. In response to these demands, we have set up the Helmholtz Management Academy to provide junior leaders in science with professional management training. Furthermore, the Helmholtz network provides a platform for the alumni of the Helmholtz Management Academy and Mentoring programme to come together and share their experiences of leadership, career development and lifelong learning.

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