Postdoc – University of Gothenburg

Postdoc: Impact of the Weddell Polynya on the large-scale ocean circulation

Diary id: PAR 2020/907Employment level: Fixed termLocation: Department of Marine SciencesApply by: 2020-09-15

The Department of Marine Sciences ( is Sweden’s most complete academic environment for marine research and education, and it is one of few such institutions in Europe. The Department of Marine Sciences, founded 2015, brings together expertise in physical oceanography, marine chemistry, marine biology, marine geology, and marine heritage conservation. Thus, the department has excellent opportunities to meet future challenges in marine research and education. The Department of Marine Sciences is located with permanent staff in Gothenburg and at the research stations Kristineberg and Tjärnö on the Swedish west coast north of Gothenburg. The Department of Marine Sciences is particularly active in the polar research area, contributing to the study of the state and circulation in both the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. A unique concentration of infrastructure and expertise is present to make ship-based and autonomous platform (AUV, Gliders, Animal tags) measurements. Rapid climate changes taking place in Polar Seas are investigated, with special attention to the fate of the Antarctic ice sheet, variations in sea ice cover and the link to the global overturning circulation.

Subject area

Physical Oceanography

Subject area description

The Southern Ocean regulates the global climate by controlling heat and carbon exchanges between the atmosphere and the ocean. Rates of climate change on decadal time scales ultimately depend on oceanic processes taking place in the Southern Ocean, yet too little is known about the underlying processes. Limitations come both from the lack of observations in this extreme environment and its inherent sensitivity to intermittent small-scale processes that are not captured in current Earth system models. To contribute to reducing uncertainties in climate change predictions, the international project SO-CHIC (Southern Ocean Carbon and Heat Impact on Climate, has recently been launched, aiming at understanding and quantifying variability of heat and carbon budgets in the Southern Ocean through an investigation of the key processes controlling exchanges between the atmosphere, ocean and sea ice using a combination of observational and modelling approaches.

One of the key specific objectives of the SO-CHIC project is to assess what are the causes and impacts related to the opening of the open-ocean Weddell Polynya in 2016 and 2017 (i.e. a large-scale ice-free area within closed sea-ice cover). For about

40 years, this polynya has not appeared, and it has been hypothesized that a shift towards warmer climates would prevent it from opening ever again due to a strengthening of the halocline. However, in 2016, the polynya re-opened briefly, and it opened again in 2017. The opening of a Weddell Polynya is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the physical and biogeochemical conditions of the Southern Ocean. Deep convection is associated with the release of large quantities of heat into the atmosphere, leading to a large cooling and freshening of the central Weddell Sea, likely associated with a spin-up of the Weddell Gyre and an acceleration of the ACC. In turn, these large-scale circulation changes should modify the structure and strength of the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, which regulates the vertical exchange of heat, carbon dioxide and other tracers, with lasting consequences for global climate and regional ecosystems. This project will be co-financed by the European H2020 program as part of the SO-CHIC project.

Job assignments

Through its work, the candidate is expected to contribute to our knowledge of the causes and impacts of the Weddell polynyas on the regional and global ocean circulation and more generally on the climate variability, with a specific focus on the in the polynyas in 2016 and 2017. To this end, the Glorys12 reanalysis or a similar product will be analyzed in the region of the Weddell Sea. The reanalysis will be validated with direct observations gathered as part of SO-CHIC activities and ancillary satellite and in situ data sets. The Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE), a Southern Ocean model simulation constrained with most existing observations using an adjoint method, may also provide a good point of comparison to cross-validate the reanalysis. The reanalysis will be analyzed to identify newly formed water masses following the emergence of Polynyas in 2015 and 2016, and to assess how the Weddell Gyre’s deep-ocean stratification and circulation react to Polynya development. The response of the Southern Ocean overturning circulation to the Polynyas will be quantified. It is hoped that this analysis should provide a synthesis of the large-scale impacts of the recent Polynyas. In parallel, a synthesis of all available historical observations in the Weddell Gyre will be used to create a state-of-the-art seasonal climatology of the stratification, water-mass characteristics, and gyre structure (from altimetry through cracks and leads of sea-ice). The candidate is expected to present the results of the analyses in manuscript(s) and at conferences, and communicate the findings at various dissemination activities. The candidate is also expected to take part in other research-related activities at the department, and within the research group in particular.


Qualified for appointment as postdoc is a person who has been awarded a PhD degree in physical oceanography or a related field for the position. A candidate with a foreign degree that is judged to be comparable is also eligible. Experience with high performance computing and scientific programming skills (python or similar) is highly desirable. A documented ability to process and analyse large datasets is also a considered highly desirable. Experience in ocean and/or climate modelling is not mandatory but desirable. Finally, the

student should have a scientific publication record, and she/he should have demonstrated verbal and written communication skills in English.


Scientific proficiency will be the primary criteria for the assessment of merits.

The scientific proficiency is assessed with a focus on the candidate’s capacity and earlier experience of working in the field of physical oceanography.

The assessment is based primarily on scientific publications and on participation in international conferences and workshops. The successful candidate will be chosen based on an overall assessment of proficiency and potential within the subject area, the potential and ability to independently carry out the duties of the position, and the abilities to communicate and cooperate with others.


Type of employment: Fixed-term employment, 24 months
Extent: 100%
Location: Department of Marine Sciences in Gothenburg 
First day of employment: As agreed

For further information about the position

Please contact Prof Fabien Roquet (  


Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

How to apply

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system, and submit the following documents:

  • Personal letter
  • CV, including a complete list of publications, and record of received research grants (with amounts).
  • Copies of maximum 5 accepted publications.
  • Description of scientific expertise, and a brief description of the applicant’s contributions to the scientific publications listed in the CV.
  • Description of other merits, for example, boards of trust, outreach activities.
  • Other documents that the applicant wish to be considered.
  • Names of 2-3 reference persons.The application is to be written in English.The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.
  • Salary is determined on an individual basis.
  • Closing date: 2020-09-15
  • It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

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