Postdoctoral scholarship – Monitoring melt where Ice Meets Ocean (MIMO) Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

The Laboratoire de Glaciologie of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is seeking to fill a 3-year postdoctoral scholarship in ice shelf remote sensing and modelling, starting around June 2017. We seek a person with a background in remote sensing (interferometry) and ice dynamics (modelling). The project is within the framework of a collaboration between ULB, the Centre Spatial de Liège (CSL, Belgium) and the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany).

Brussels is a lively, well-connected city with a large international community located in the center of Europe. The Laboratoire de Glaciologie has a long-term experience in ice sheet dynamics, especially the Antarctic ice sheet through ice-sheet/ice-shelf modelling, field geophysics and remote sensing. A more detailed project description is given below. For more information about the project, about the Laboratoire de Glaciologie and about living in Brussels please contact Prof. Frank PATTYN (

Project description

Antarctic ice mass loss is governed through ice streams discharging into floating ice shelves. Ice shelves play a crucial role in regulating this ice transfer towards the ocean by ice-shelf buttressing. Thinning of ice shelves largely depends on processes that act from atop (surface melt) and below (bottom melting in contact with the ocean).

The MIMO project aims at quantifying basal melt of ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic ice sheet at high spatial and temporal resolution (monitoring) and at deriving improved parametrizations for use in ice sheet modelling studies. The latter will also be implemented in a large-scale ice-sheet model and compared to currently available datasets. Since basal melting under ice shelves is not only a great unknown, its spatial and temporal change is even more so. Up to now, basal ice-shelf melt has either been determined for small-scale studies or with limiting temporal scale. CSL developed a complete interferometric SAR suite, including a coherence tracking module. This module will be adapted to handle Sentinel TopSAR data.

The successful candidate will ensure the further development of a mass conservation method in which basal melting closes the mass budget calculated from the known variables of surface velocities, ice thickness and surface-mass balance. Ice thickness will be inferred from Tandem-X data (AWI) and corrected for surface density variations (based on existing data, both from remote sensing and geophysics). Surface mass balance stems from atmospheric modelling results. The first part of the project aims at developing the methodology for a given target area (Roi Baudouin Ice Shelf, Antarctica), and further apply the methodology to a larger domain of East-Antarctic ice shelves. For the target area, the Laboratoire de Glaciologie is currently monitoring melt rates using phase-sensitive radar and this monitoring will most likely be extended to other ice shelves as well in near future.


Applicants should email a cover letter, full Curriculum Vitae and at least one reference letter at the address below by March 20, 2017 (closing date). The desired qualifications are a PhD in glaciology, geophysics, or an equivalent geoscience, with good programming skills in a Matlab/Python environment.


The postdoctoral scholarship requirements are the following:
  • The candidate should hold a PhD degree for less than 8 years
  • Should respect the conditions of international mobility, i.e., should not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (employment, studies) in Belgium during a period longer than 24 months over the last 3 years that precede the start of the postdoctoral scholarship.

Specialities of the research group

The GEMICE group (Geophysics and Modelling of Ice) is specialized in the development and application of numerical ice sheet and ice shelf models, applied to specific glaciological problems, such as grounding lines, ice streams, ice sheet/ice shelf transitions, subglacial lake interconnection, subglacial polythermal conditions etc.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Frank PATTYN
Laboratoire de Glaciologie CP160/03
Department of Geosciences, Environment and Society (DGES)
Université Libre de Bruxelles
50, Av. F.D. Roosevelt, B-1050 Brussels
Tel : +32 2 650 28 46