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PhD Position (f/m) "Uncertainty in river water levels for flood defence reliability"

University of Twente (UT). Enschede (Niederlande), 19.04.2017

PhD position: Uncertainty in river water levels for flood defence reliability at the University of Twente.


Function types
Scientific fields
Job number
About employer
PhD positions
Natural Sciences, Engineering
38.0 hours per week
€ 2191 - € 2801
University Graduate
University of Twente (UT)

Job description

This PhD vacancy concerns one of the two PhD positions at the University of Twente in the All-Risk program. The technology foundation (TTW) of the national science foundation NWO recently funded the Perspectief programme: "All-Risk, implementation of new risk standards in the Dutch flood protection program P15-21". All-Risk is joint program with 14 PhD and 4 Postdoc positions, in which 8 universities and research institutes and many public and private parties collaborate to investigate flood risk and how measures such as flood defences can reduce this risk.

In 2014, the Dutch Flood Protection program (HWBP) adopted a new probabilistic risk approach for the management of the flood defences. Protection standards are expressed as flooding probabilities of polder areas, implying that multiple failure mechanisms for all dike sections within a dike ring must be considered, and then combined to assess the overall flooding probability. Implementation of this new approach will start already in the coming years. The transition therefore urgently calls for the cutting-edge scientific knowledge provided by our proposed research in the fields of A) development of the risk framework, B) characterizing dynamics in hydraulic loads, C) understanding subsoil heterogeneity, D) quantifying flood defence reliability, and E) organizing law, governance and implementation. This vacancy addresses project B3: "Large-scale uncertainty in river water levels".

Project description

Water levels determine the main dynamic load on the 1430 km of primary river dikes. The recently executed Room for the River (RfR) project consisted of 34 large-scale river interventions, but their hydraulic effects were studied only locally and deterministically, in spite of inherent uncertainty (Van Vuren et al. 2015). This uncertainty is dominated by the discharge distribution over the river branches at bifurcation points (Warmink et al. 2011) and by channel bed morphology (Van Vuren et al. 2015). This project aims to quantify and reduce the morphological and associated water level uncertainty for the large-scale cumulative effects of RfR interventions for a range of water levels to support more accurate and robust dike designs and improved management strategies for the river system.

The objectives of this PhD work are:
  • To quantify the full-range water level probabilities for the combined large-scale river interventions on both river bed morphology and discharge distribution over the bifurcations.
  • To investigate to which extent these uncertainties can be reduced.
  • To quantify the effect of long-term system changes on the probability of river water levels.
Close collaboration with the other PhDs in the project and with the users is required.

The research will be executed at the University of Twente, under supervision of the promotor (Prof.dr. Suzanne J.M.H. Hulscher), daily supervisor (dr. Jord J. Warmink) and the other members of the All-Risk consortium. Additionally, this project is closely related to other PhD projects within amongst others the RiverCare program, which is partly executed at the UT. This PhD project runs in close collaboration with the other sub-projects in the All-Risk programme, hosted at the universities of Twente, Delft, Wageningen, Groningen, Nijmegen and Utrecht. The project is co-funded by STOWA, Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment), Deltares and the companies HKV, RHDHV, Arcadis, Witteveen+Bos, HillBlocks and several waterboards. A user group of externals has been formed to further warrant the applicability of the outcomes of this research.

Education (min 12.5 %) and teaching (10%) are also part of the PhD position at the UT.


We are looking for a talented, enthusiastic researcher with an active attitude and broad interests covering rivers, modelling, hydro-morphodynamic interaction, hydraulic engineering and an affinity with statistics. Your MSc is in Civil Engineering, Geosciences (e.g. Physical Geography or Geophysics), Mathematics, Environmental studies or a related field.
We consider it important that the candidate is able to view his/her research from a broader perspective (within the All-Risk programme, the scientific world and towards the practical application) and that he/she is willing and able to collaborate closely with other researchers in the programme and involved users in the team. Therefore, we welcome entrepreneurial candidates with an open mind, strong communicative skills and excellent comprehension of English, in both spoken language and writing.

Experience in the use of numerical models is required, as is a good command of the English language. Non-dutch or non-native English speaking candidates need to provide IELTS or TOEFL-iBT test results. In addition, comprehension of the Dutch language is strongly beneficial in order to enable interaction with users. Some of the desired skills can be acquired during an individual training programme of 840 hours that is part of the PhD project.

More information and application

For more information about this vacancy you can contact Dr. Jord Warmink, telephone +3153-4892831, e-mail: The start of the project is planned around September 2017. Candidates that expect to graduate around this moment are also invited to apply. Please send your application letter, with a curriculum vitae, transcript (list with grades of courses attended), references and, if applicable, a list of publications before May 20th 2017 through the button below. You can upload a maximum of three documents.

Conditions of employment

We offer a very challenging position in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. As a PhD candidate you will be offered a fulltime position for four years, after which you should have completed your PhD thesis. In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities the gross monthly salary increases from € 2.191,- in the first year to € 2.801,- in the final year. In addition, the University of Twente offers attractive fringe benefits.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: MIRA, CTIT, SBE and IGS.

Bewerbungsschluss: 20.05.2017