Job advertisement PhD in peatland wildfire modeling

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European Geosciences Union

PhD in peatland wildfire modeling

PhD in peatland wildfire modeling

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KU Leuven

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Relevant divisions
Geosciences Instrumentation and Data Systems (GI)
Hydrological Sciences (HS)
Natural Hazards (NH)

Full time

Entry level


Required education

Application deadline
11 June 2020

14 May 2020

Job description

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the KU Leuven (Belgium) invites applications for a 4-year PhD position on peatland wildfire modeling.

During the last decade, the Boreal and Arctic experienced several dry spells and heat waves that led to widespread wildfire occurrence over forests and peatlands. The interplay of flaming (dominantly biomass) and smoldering (dominantly peat) combustion makes peatland wildfires very persistent. Drying as a result of climate change and human activity already led to more frequent, larger and more severe peatland wildfires. This will exacerbate global warming due to the instantaneous release of ‘legacy soil carbon’ that accumulated over millennia, and aggravate other adversities for the environment and humankind, such as respiratory diseases with the inhalation of noxious smoke and costs of extensive firefighting.

Project overview:
The project PEATBURN funded by FWO aims at fundamentally improving the large-scale modeling of peatland wildfires by the integration of crucial novel information about the subsurface fuel (=peat!) moisture conditions obtained from satellite data assimilation. Key objectives of PEATBURN are
- to further advance soil moisture satellite data assimilation over peatlands,
- to improve fire danger rating systems used in fire management, and
- to reveal unique large-scale insights into links between peatland moisture and wildfires.

The research team:
The PhD student will be part of the land surface modeling and data assimilation research group at KU Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. PEATBURN is led by Dr. Michel Bechtold and Prof. Gabrielle De Lannoy. The PhD student will further collaborate with an international team of wildfire experts.

Further information on this and other vacancies of the research group, on the required profiles and on how to apply can be found here:

The position can be filled by a suitable candidate at any time.

For more information, please contact Dr. Michel Bechtold, tel.: +32 16 32 01 67, e-mail: