Four PhD scholarships in Atmospheric Electricity

DTU Space
onsdag 03 maj 17

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Frist 15. juni 2017
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PhD scholarships in electrical thunderstorm processes

The Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics Section at DTU Space leads the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) for the International Space Station with launch in winter 2017/2018. ASIM will measure Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs), Sprites, Jets and Gigantic Jets (the Transient Luminous Emissions, TLEs) and lightning. Scientists and engineers in the section have supported the development of the ASIM instruments, are fielding instruments on the ground for optical observations of discharges above thunderstorms, and develop simulation tools for atmospheric electric discharges.

The section coordinates the EU H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Project SAINT (Science and Innovation with Thunderstorms) of 15 Ph.D. students and 19 partners. SAINT will conduct research in thunderstorm processes by coupling ASIM and ground-based observations with laboratory experiments and simulations. There are four Ph.D. positions open at DTU Space within this SAINT network collaboration.

Responsibilities and tasks

The four positions are:

1. Analysis of optical- and Gamma-ray flashes observed by ASIM and LIS on the International Space Station

The objective is to understand the electric discharge processes that generate Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes and to determine if TGFs are associated with an optical signature in lightning detection cameras deployed and planned for geostationary monitoring satellites (GOES-R and MTG). Data are interpreted with optical and X-ray observations in High-Voltage laboratory experiments in collaboration with other Ph.D. students in the SAINT project. The successful candidate is supposed to visit partner institutes and companies in Europe and America for a total period of seven months related to the project.

2. Analysis of Lightning and TLEs observed by ASIM and LIS on the International Space Station

The objective is to identify the signatures of TLEs in ASIM data, to characterize their spectral and temporal properties and global distribution, and to determine the leader-streamer nature of Jets and Gigantic Jets. Analysis with simultaneous LIS data will give inputs to the design of L2 algorithms for the lightning imaging camera planned for geostationary monitoring satellite MTG and to plasma chemistry models developed by other Ph.D. students in the SAINT project. The successful candidate is supposed to visit partner institutes and companies in Europe and America for a total period of seven months related to the project.

3. Modelling of lightning attachment to moving structures

The objective is to understand how lightning is stimulated by moving structures such as wind turbine blades. The project will adapt existing numerical codes to simulate streamer development in the environment of wings by approximating effects of realistic blade materials, neutral atmosphere turbulence and space charge clouds around the blades. The simulation model and interpretation of results will be done in collaboration with other Ph.D. students in the SAINT project. The successful candidate is supposed to visit partner institutes and companies in Europe for a total period of six months related to the project.

4. Analysis of space and ground observations of thunderstorms

The objective is to understand the important thunderstorm processes that lead to the generation of Sprites, Jets and Gigantic Jets. The project will maintain and run the optical instruments in Southern Europe fielded by DTU Space and will analyse the data together with 3D lightning measurements from facilities in the Ebro Valley and on Corsica. The instruments will be run in collaboration with the SAINT Ph.D. students during the two summer campaigns of the SAINT network. Simultaneous observations with ISS overflight will have high priority. The successful candidate is supposed to have a research stay related to the project outside of Denmark for a period between three and six months.

SAINT is a highly integrated network. In all Ph.D. projects, the candidates will be exposed to satellite observations, ground observations, laboratory experiments and numerical modelling, and all projects will to some degree involve the results obtained by others in the network.

All PhD projects will involve travels to summer- and winter schools of the SAINT network, and to other partners of the network.

Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The final assessment of the applicants will be made by 28 August 2017.

Please note that candidates for positions 1-3 are subject to the H2020 mobility rule. A candidate must not have resided in the Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the date of recruitment (and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country) and must be  in the first four years of his/her research career at the date of recruitment. Position 4 is not subject to the mobility rule.

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, scientific advice and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Torsten Neubert, +45 2622 4265.

All available SAINT PhD projects are found on:  

Please submit your online application no later than 15 June 2017.

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file.

In the field “Please indicate which position(s) you would like to apply for” please indicate which project you are applying for (title from PhD projects list or individual research projects list above).

The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The Institute has about 135 employees, an annual turn-over of about 120 MDKK and it is located at the Lyngby Campus of the Technical University of Denmark together with 19 other institutes within the technical sciences. In the Astrophysics and Atmospheric Division, current focus areas cover large-scale structure of the universe, physics of compact objects, space weather, upper atmosphere physics and cosmo-climatology as well as development of instrumentation, in particular high-energy instrumentation, i.e. X- and gamma ray detectors and -optics.  The division is currently active in operation of instruments on and data analysis from three satellites. The division also runs four instrumentation laboratories and hosts a center for space weather research and forecasts.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.