Thursday, December 26, 2013

PhD Fellowship available for research on integrated water resources data in supporting decisions

PhD Fellowship available for research on integrated water resources data in supporting decisions

UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is searching for an excellent candidate for a 4-year PhD position focusing on 'Value of comprehensive datasets and information in constraining uncertainties in support of decision making'. This PhD research will be conducted in the framework of a Seventh Framework EU research project which is due to start in January 2014.


This project, "Global Earth Observation for integrated water resource assessment", or Eath2Observe in short has the objective to integrate global Earth Observations (EO), in-situ datasets and models to develop a comprehensive global water resources re-analysis dataset. Within the project a team of some 29 leading universities and research institutes from across Europe as well as internationally will work on testing new EO data sources, extending existing processing algorithms and combining data from multiple satellite missions in order to improve the overall resolution and reliability of EO data. These data will be combined with terrestrial and model data to establish a global water resources re-analysis dataset, which will be disseminated through an open data Water Cycle Integrator portal and contribute to the GEOSS platform.

Error characteristics of the datasets will be established, as well as how these errors propagate through large scale water resource models that provide datasets used in supporting water resources decisions. The usability and operational value of the datasets developed in supporting decisions will be verified in selected case studies across the world, including the Mediterranean and Baltic regions, Ethiopia, Morocco, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh. These case studies will be conducted together with local end-users and stakeholders.

Description of PhD Research

Within the framework of Earth2Observe project, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is initiating a full time PhD position for a duration of four years. This PhD will work closely with two other PhD students within the project in a work package that focuses on the socio-economic value of data in support of decision making. In the operational management of water resources decisions are made on water allocation, flood and drought management etc; and the availability of data helps reduce the uncertainty underlying these decisions. Within the PhD research a framework will be developed and tested through which the value of data in reducing decision uncertainty can be established. In a first step user oriented metrics will be developed to establish the (socio-economic) value of reducing uncertainty through improved datasets. A second step will aim to convert these metrics and thresholds into requirements for datasets that integrate different data sources such as in-situ data, EO data and model data, each with differing error chararcteristics.
This PhD research will be conducted in close cooperation with two other PhD researchers, one appointed full time at the National University of Colombia in Bogota, Colombia, and the third jointly appointed at UNESCO-IHE and the National University of Colombia. Research will focus on two basins of high socio-economic importance within the case studies in the Earth2Observe project.
The supervisory team for the PhD research will be Prof. Charlotte de Fraiture and/or Prof. Arthur Mynett and Dr Micha Werner of the Water Science and Engineering Department at UNESCO-IHE. The research will be carried out at the premises of UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands, though it is expected that the candidate will spend significant time in the research basins. The PhD position is funded by a fellowship that covers tuition fee, health insurance, travel, visits to conferences and a monthly tax-free allowance of approximately 1200 Euros a month. Yearly performance appraisals will be conducted. The expected starting date is the 1st of April 2014 and the duration of the project is 4 years.


The candidates should have:
  • MSc degree (average mark of 80% or above) in a discipline relevant to the topic (e.g. Hydrology, Water Resources Management, Environmental Sciences, Civil Engineering)
  • Experience in hydraulic / hydrological modelling, water resources modelling, statistics and uncertainty analysis. Experience with economic valuation methods would be an asset.
  • Well developed IT skills, includng computer codes such as Python, R, Matlab, as well as hydrological and water resources models.
  • A high proficiency in English (written and spoken). Candidates with proficiency in Spanish will have an advantage
  • Motivation to work in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment

How to apply?

Applications in English, including curriculum vitae, names and contact details of three referees, and a brief motivation letter should be sent by email (as one PDF file with your family name as the filename) to Ms. Tonneke Morgenstond ( or Ms Martine Roebroeks - Nahon ( at the Water Science and Engineering Department. Please mention "Earth2Observe - PhD position", in the subject line of your email. 
The closing date for applications is the 7th of February 2014. Short-listed candidates will be contacted by February 14th 2014. It is expected that the candidate will be selected by February 21st, 2014. 

Department and Chair Group

The Water Science and Engineering MSc Programme focuses on the management and development of water resources and water flows and quality in the natural environment, while addressing the multidisciplinary character of human activities dealing with water. The specialisations within this programme explore natural and anthropological influences on the water cycle, from the perspectives of civil engineering, technology and earth sciences. They are of direct relevance to sustainable development because they prepare graduates to improve the management of human impact on water resources, design simulation models for various phases of the water cycle, and develop methods of reducing the impact of water-related natural hazards.
More information about the contents of the research can be requested by email: Dr. Micha Werner (

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