Lund University, Department of Physical Geograhy and Ecosystem Science

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 47 000 students and more than 8 800 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.


Tropical Africa is home to 1.4 billion people and one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, yet the response of the continent’s forests to climate change and how this feeds back to the global climate are highly uncertain. Land-atmosphere interactions are key processes of the Earth system, controlling the energy, water, and carbon exchanges to the atmosphere and imposing substantial impacts on climate ranging from diurnal to multi-decadal scales. Vegetation feedback (e.g., changes in vegetation-related surface albedo and surface conductance) is expected to play a crucial role in land-atmosphere interactions under a changing climate. The underlying mechanisms in particular in the context of climate extremes are complex and remain largely unknown. This PhD project focuses on vegetation dynamics in tropical Africa and is sponsored by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS). You will help improve our understanding of vegetation feedback under climate extremes by investigating topics such as the response of ecosystems to drought and heatwaves across temporal and spatial scales, and quantifying the overall impacts on vegetation dynamics, and the role of vegetation in sub-seasonal climate prediction and long-term climate variation. You will combine interdisciplinary research methods, including using state-of-the-art Earth system models, analyses of remote sensing products and field measurements. This project will allow you to become part of an active research and education environment, interacting with multidisciplinary researchers (e.g.,, experts in ecosystem and climate modelling, and field scientists. You will also become part of the BECC research platform, a collaboration between Lund University and the University of Gothenburg, which brings together over 250 researchers working on topics related to biodiversity and ecosystem services under a changing climate. The project results will have a strong connection to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

 Work duties

The doctoral students are to devote themselves to the PhD programme which includes implementing research projects and third-cycle courses. Teaching and other departmental duties can be involved but no more than 20%. The student will focus on the investigation of the response of African vegetation to climate extremes and its role in land-atmosphere interactions under different climate events and scenarios. Tasks will include developing and applying the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS, and the relevant state-of-the-art Earth System Models (e.g. RCA-GUESS and EC-EARTH). Developing model simulation protocols, carrying out the related simulations and analysis, and leading the writing of peer-reviewed papers based on the results are expected. A certain extent of flexibility according to the interest of the student is possible upon the discussion with the supervisors but will be developed in the context of the project plan, including ensuring that relevant project milestones and deliverables are met. The student will be expected to participate in national and international meetings and conferences related to the project.

 Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third-cycle studies in physical geography and ecosystem science, if he or she has passed an independent project (for example a degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and has good oral and written proficiency in English.
Additional requirements:

  • High-quality research work (e.g. Master/Bachelor thesis) evidencing substantial potential as a researcher.
  • Very good oral and written proficiency in English.

 Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycles. Special attention is paid to the following:

Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study. An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems. Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.

Other assessment criteria:

  • Level of knowledge of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, plant physiology and vegetation feedback, climate impacts, ecosystem modelling and climate modelling.
  • Level of experience in using complex process-based models (e.g., DGVMs, LSMs, ESMs).
  • Level of experience in analysing large datasets including climate and ecosystem data with sophisticated statistical methods.
  • Capacity to develop computer code (e.g., Python, Matlab, C/C++, or Fortran)
  • Quality and level of previous research work.

Consideration will also be given to strong collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

Terms of employment
Only those admitted to third-cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1-7 §§.

 Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter of maximum 2 pages stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, contact information for at least two references, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.).

Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment 2023-09-01
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2023/1039
  • Minchao Wu, +46462221687
  • Thomas Pugh, +46462220000
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet,
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Published 29.Mar.2023
Last application date 28.Apr.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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