Ph.D. candidate position in flash flood mechanistics and modelling in Luxembourg

Article Type: 
Start Date: 
Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 10:45

Reference: ERIN-2016-040

Type: PhD Student
Contract type: Fixed term contract
Duration: 14 months (+22 months + potentially 12 months extension)
Place: Belvaux


In the context of global change and non-stationarity of hydrological systems, Luxembourg is increasingly facing convective meteorological events of unprecedented intensity. The recent catastrophic hydrological events that have occurred in the Mullerthal area (central-eastern Luxembourg) in summer 2016 and 2018 are examples of an increase in extreme hydro-meteorological events. A pressing research need in this respect stems from the fact that while climate change is now clearly observed, it has not been properly assessed and quantified. Moreover, with most hydrological forecasting models having been developed under the assumption of stationarity of environmental systems, they are increasingly applied close to or even beyond their design limits.

We intend to rely on the dense hydro-meteorological monitoring network of the Sûre River basin in Luxembourg, operated by public authorities (e.g. ‘Administration de la Gestion de l’Eau) and LIST for several decades for investigating the following issues:

  • First, we propose to rely on the historical hydro-meteorological database (spanning up to 180 years of observations) for a thorough statistical investigation of past (flash) flood events. Flood shape descriptions are commonly used in this context to characterize the constant/stationary hydrological properties of a catchment. However, flood events can be viewed as well as being an integrated representation of the rainfall events. Here we propose to carry out the flood analysis by extracting evolving properties of the hydrographs that could eventually be related to climate change.
  • Second, we will relate the identified hydrograph properties to meteorological forcing properties with a view to propose new and simpler hydrological models – capable of reproducing the rainfall-discharge relationship in a non-stationary context. This part of the proposed research will be closely linked to an ongoing public-private partnership project on ‘Low-Power Wide-Area Networks enabled flash-flood monitoring and forecasting’ (in collaboration with the ‘Administration de la Gestion de l’Eau’ and ‘POST Luxembourg’). The main goal will be to significantly reduce uncertainties in rainfall measurements and to subsequently improve flash-flood forecasting capacities.

An important objective for the selected candidate is to publish in highly ranked international peer-reviewed journals. The candidate will be encouraged to present his/her results at conferences and to attend workshops. Research visits at the KIT and other project partners are foreseen.

Ideally, the candidate holds a Master degree in applied mathematics or environmental engineering, preferably with a focus on hydraulics/meteorology. She/he has a good knowledge of statistics and programming (preferably with R). She/he is highly motivated to perform rigorous research and is willing to join a very dynamic and international team.


  • No restrictions apply as to the nationality of the candidates
  • Candidates shall be available for starting their position between November 1st 2018 and December 1st 2018
  • Driving license class B

Place of employment and main place of work:

  • Primary supervisor at LIST: Prof. Laurent Pfister
  • Primary work location:  Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Belvaux, Luxembourg
  • Degree awarding institution: Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (D)
  • Duration and location of secondment: Regular stays at KIT (up to 25% of total project duration)

Find more details and how to apply here:

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