Job Opportunity: Postdoc for ThinIce, AWI

Postdoc for BMBF ThinIce at Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Potsdam, Germany


In the Arctic permafrost region, near-surface air temperatures are rising up to four times faster than the global average. This rapid temperature rise is fundamentally changing soil stability and hydrological conditions in the permafrost regions and poses a substantial threat to industrial legacies. Permafrost, once considered a long-term solution for the deposition of waste from exploration activities, is now a cause for concern as thawing could mobilize contaminants. The ThinIce project is dedicated to the in-depth study of drilling mud sumps in Canada’s Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories.

They are searching for a Researcher who is eager to investigate the ecological risks emerging from drilling mud sumps under thawing permafrost conditions. Together with research groups at RWTH Aachen, the University of Hannover, and TU Braunschweig they aim to investigate the potential environmental risks posed by mud sumps caused by recent and future destabilization of the frozen ground. The major goals of the project are:

  • Evaluate the susceptibility of drilling mud sumps under climate change scenarios.
  • Examine the influence of hazardous mud sump compounds on pivotal microbial species that define the ecological balance of permafrost soil ecosystems.
  • Gain insight into the resilience of thawing permafrost soil ecosystems in relation to contamination, focusing on their inherent capacity for self-restoration.
  • Appraise vulnerabilities concerning broader contamination scenarios arising from changes in the hydrological pathways that regulate the transport, concentration, and persistence of contaminates.
  • Collaboratively develop and implement sustainable strategies for risk mitigation in partnership with local stakeholders and communities.


  • Coordinate the research project in close exchange with all partners of the research alliance.
  • Conduct own original research on climate change impacts on thaw slump and permafrost stability (field based, modeling, remote sensing).
  • Organize and lead field campaigns to research sites in the Mackenzie Delta Region.
  • Foster the collaboration with research partners in Canada and exchange with local stakeholders and representatives.


  • A Ph.D. in geoscience, climate science, hydrology, earth science, or other related disciplines.
  • Experience in field research in the Arctic and the willingness and capability to lead multi-week field campaigns.
  • A record of scientific publications demonstrating the ability to conduct independent research.
  • Experience in modeling thermal-hydrological soil processes.
  • Strong management and communication skills are expected.
  • Strong programming, statistical, and data analysis skills are required.
  • Fluency in English (written and spoken) is required.

Additional skills and knowledge:

  • Experience with electrical resistivity surveys (or more generally, geophysical surveys) would be an asset.
  • Expertise in permafrost, infrastructure, and industrial sites would be an asset.

Further Information:

Please contact Dr. Moritz Langer (, +49(331)288-2122) for further information.

This is a full-time position, limited to 3 years. It is also suitable for part-time employment. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13. The place of employment will be Potsdam.

Postdocs have to register with AWI’s postdoc office PROCEED, thereby gaining access to a set of tailor-made career development tools.

The AWI is characterised by:

  • their scientific success – excellent research
  • collaboration and cooperation – intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
  • opportunities to develop – on the job and towards other positions
  • an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world
  • flexible working hours and the possibility of mobile working up to 50% of regular working hours
  • Health promotion
  • support services and a culture of reconciling work and family
  • Occupational pension provision (VBL)

Equal opportunities are an integral part of their personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of employees who are women, and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

Applicants with disabilities will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

Please submit your application by 19th December 2023, exclusively online.

Reference number: 23/212/D/Geo-b