PhD position - Advances in understanding nitrate aerosol formation: Kinetics and missing mechanisms

Jülich Research Centre (FZJ)

Jülich, Germany

Work group:

IEK-8 – Troposphäre

Area of research:

PHD Thesis

Job description:

The Institute for Energy and Climate Research, Troposphere (IEK-8), investigates the chemical and physical processes in the troposphere that impact the chemical composition of the atmosphere. IEK-8 performs atmospheric long-term observations, investigates gas-phase and aerosol processes in the atmosphere, and simulates atmospheric chemistry and climate interactions by using numerical models. We are seeking for a new PhD student to work within a three-year program of the Graduate School HITEC . The offered PhD position will be part of the European H2020 Research and Innovation Action “Constrained aerosol forcing for improved climate projections” (FORCeS). FORCeS brings together 20 leading European research teams in order to jointly identify, constrain and efficiently parameterize the most critical processes determining aerosol radiative forcing and aerosol- and cloud-related climate feedbacks.

Your Job:

Atmospheric aerosols from natural and anthropogenic sources adversely affect human health and play an important role in changing the Earth’s climate. Inorganic particulate nitrate constituents contribute significantly to the total aerosol mass, especially in urban areas and industrialized regions (e.g., over Europe they account for about 20% of the total dry aerosol mass). Nitrate is particularly important in the optically active submicron size range, related to its ability to efficiently scatter solar radiation and its potential to affect cloud properties. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscored the important role of nitrate aerosol in climate change (IPCC, 2013); however, there is large uncertainty in current models regarding the global nitrate aerosol load, its regional distribution, and its radiative forcing. Within this PhD project you will address some of the remaining challenges in atmospheric aerosol modelling by:

  • Developing an advance heterogeneous chemistry mechanism, a depreciated formation pathway of aerosol nitrate that is typically missing in current models.
  • Determining the kinetic limitations of nitric acid partitioning in the coarse aerosols and its interactions with mineral dust
  • Simulating the formation of organic nitrates from the oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds by the nitrate radical
  • Investigating the impact of emission control policies (e.g., reducing SO2, NOx, and NH3) on future nitrate aerosol formation

Your Profile:

  • Masters degree in physics, chemistry, environmental sciences or a related field
  • High interest in working in a transdisciplinary collaboration between experts on the process and climate scale
  • Profound programming knowledge in FORTRAN and scripting languages (e.g., Phython)
  • Excellent knowledge of written and oral English


Our Offer:

  • An international and interdisciplinary working environment at one of Europe`s largest research establishments
  • Excellent technical facilities, including access to one of the most powerful High Performance Computing centres in Europe
  • An exciting, transdisciplinary team work within a multinational European project
  • Chance of participating in (international) conferences and project meetings
  • Broad spectrum of training in the Graduate School HITEC and the Forschungszentrum Jülich
  • Pay in line with 67,5 % of pay group 13 of the Collective Agreement for the Public Service (TVöD-Bund) under a three-year contract
  • Information on employment as a PhD student at Forschungszentrum Jülich can be found here

Forschungszentrum Jülich promotes equal opportunities and diversity in its employment relations.We also welcome applications from disabled persons.

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.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: 2020D-018