Postdoctoral position (ice core analysis)- Laboratoire de Glaciologie ULB

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Postdoctoral position (ice core analysis)- Laboratoire de Glaciologie ULB

Jean-Louis Tison

Postdoctoral position - East Antarctic Surface Mass Balance in the Anthropocene : observations and multiscale modelling (Mass2Ant)

Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)


The Laboratoire de Glaciologie of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is seeking to fill a 2-year postdoctoral position in ice core paleoclimatology, starting around March 2018. We are looking for a candidate with a background in ice core chemical and physical analysis and interpretation skills in the domains of surface mass balance history and sea ice extent proxies. The project is within the framework of a collaboration between ULB (Prof. Jean-Louis Tison), UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain, Prof. Hugues Goosse), IRM (Institut Royal Meteorologique, Dr. Stéphane Vannitsem), University of Colorado (Prof. Jan Lenaerts) and Delft University of Technology (Dr. Stef Lhermitte).


Brussels is a lively, well-connected city with a large international community located in the center of Europe. The Laboratoire de Glaciologie (Propice Unit) has a long-term experience in the multi-parametric analysis of ice at interfaces (ice-bedrock, ice-ocean, ice-atmosphere) targeting both glaciological processes and paleoclimate studies. 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. Jean-Louis TISON ([hidden email]).


Project description


The climate of the high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere has changed considerably over the last decades, but the origin and long-term relevance of those changes are not well understood, in particular because the short instrumental records do not allow documenting the full range of variability of the Southern Hemisphere climate system. Furthermore, climate models display large biases in their simulation of mean climate and recent trends. This reduces our ability to perform reliable estimates of future changes in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, with strong consequences for global scale projections of sea level rise as well as the atmospheric CO2 and surface temperature changes.

The Antarctic climate system is very complex with strong interactions between the ice sheet, atmosphere, ocean and sea ice. Within this complex system small scale variations often have large scale consequences, while regional processes are partly controlled by large scale dynamics. Therefore it is crucial to link the dynamics that affect Antarctica at different spatial and temporal scales in order to make progress in our understanding, and increase the confidence in the future projections for Antarctica. Within this framework, the Mass2Ant project proposes to study the surface mass balance (SMB) in the Princess Ragnhild Coast (PRC) region, analyzing both changes over the last decades and centuries (Anthropocene) as well as the link between the regional variability and the large-scale atmospheric and ocean circulation.

The Mass2Ant project, targets two main objectives. Firstly, it aims to understand the local processes responsible for SMB variability in the PRC region and to document the changes during the last 300 years. Secondly, it will establish links between local, regional, and large scale processes to determine the origin of the variability of the surface mass balance. This will allow assessing if the already observed changes over PRC (e.g. mass gain) are representative for larger areas and if these are the result of anthropogenic forcing and/or linked to the natural variability of oceanic and atmospheric circulation. Finally, the representation of the variability of East Antarctic surface mass balance in Earth System Models will be assessed and the implications for future surface mass balance projections will be analyzed.

The successful candidate will ensure the high-resolution multi-parametric analyses (high-precision ice density, stable isotopes, electrical conductivity, ion chromatography for major ions, ICP-MS for iodine and bromine) and interpretation of two 150-300m ice cores retrieved from neighboring ice rises at PRC. These will be interpreted in terms of seasonal signal to reconstruct the annual snow/firn/ice thickness. To convert the data in meter ice equivalent, field optical televiewer (OPTV) measurements will be performed in the drill hole. After calibration on the discrete density measurements, the measured brightness from the instrument will be converted to a continuous density record along the vertical. In the perspective of discussing the drivers for the regional surface mass balance variability, the major ion chemistry will be used to provide known indicators of past sea ice extent (MSA, nssSO4, Na, I, Br…) variability. These will first be correlated to and calibrated versus satellite records of sea ice extent in the recent times (post-1970), and then be extended further back in time, provided that significant relationships are put forward.


The activity will imply analytical collaboration with the VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), University of Venice, Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and University of Aberystwyth (Wales).




Applicants should email a cover letter, full Curriculum Vitae and at least one reference letter at the address below by January, 3rd 2018 (closing date). The desired qualifications are a PhD in Glaciology, Environmental Chemistry or an equivalent geoscience, with good analytical skills for the instruments mentioned above.




The candidate should hold a PhD degree for less than 8 years


For more information, please contact:


Prof. Jean-Louis TISON
Laboratoire e Glaciologie, CP 160/03
Institute of Geosciences (IGEOS)
Department of Geosciences, Environment and Society (DGES)
Université Libre de Bruxelles
50, av. F.D. Roosevelt, B-1050 Bruxelles
[hidden email]
Tel: +32 2 650 22 25
Fax: +32 2 650 22 26


Prof. Tison, Jean-Louis

Propice Unit

Laboratoire de Glaciologie (CP 160/03)

DGES – Faculté des Sciences

Université Libre de Bruxelles

50, av. F.D. Roosevelt

1050 – Bruxelles



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