Job Opportunity: Postdoctoral Specialist, MPI-BGC

Postdoctoral Specialist “investigating permafrost disturbances at small scales” at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) in Jena, Germany

The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) in Jena is dedicated to interdisciplinary fundamental research in the field of Earth system sciences with a focus on climate and ecosystems. The internationally renowned institute, which currently employs around 250 people, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022. Jena is known for high-tech industry, internationally renowned research institutions and a modern university, but it also has a beautiful natural setting in the green Saale valley with steep limestone slopes. The city of Jena has an active student scene and a diverse cultural life. For the department of Biogeochemical Signals they are looking for a Postdoctoral specialist (m/f/d) to investigate permafrost disturbances at small scales (full time, 2 years limited).

Background and position description:

The quantification of net exchange processes of carbon and energy between surface and atmosphere within heterogeneous landscapes is associated with substantial uncertainties, linked to large knowledge gaps regarding environmental conditions, and mechanisms, that control the carbon cycle processes. A particular gap exists for assessing the exchange budgets of carbon (CO2 and CH4), nutrient (N2O) and energy within highly structured Arctic ecosystems, where ongoing and future climate change may lead to variable responses of biogeochemical processes at smallest scales. A key uncertainty in this context is the role of landscape disturbances, triggered e. g. by thawing of ground ice and subsequent sinking of the surface.

They are seeking a postdoctoral specialist (m/f/d) with experience in investigating biogeochemical and biogeophysical processes based on in-situ observations of ecosystem fluxes and ancillary parameters. Primary study targets will be the investigation of wetland degradation and wildfire disturbance within the Arctic permafrost region, including field work based on space-for-time approaches in the Canadian Northwest Territories. The aim is to quantify the changes in ecosystem characteristics that go along with the permafrost degradation, allowing to better understand the future feedbacks of currently undisturbed Arctic landscapes with an expected warmer climate. The successful candidate (m/f/d) will fill a key position within the ERC-synergy project Q-Arctic, closely interacting with a large network of international project partners. The position will be embedded within an interdisciplinary research team that is conducting experimental, observational and modelling studies focusing on Arctic carbon cycle processes under global climate change.

Your tasks:

  • Contribute, with portable flux chamber techniques, to collaborative field work campaigns within the growing seasons in the tundra region surrounding Inuvik, Canadian NW Territories.
  • Process and analyze observational datasets from the in-situ flux chamber program, and integrate results with observations from other platforms (eddy-covariance, auto-chambers, UAV measurements) and remote sensing.
  • Based on the pan-Arctic synthesis of new and existing observational datasets, characterize typical ‘fingerprints’ of ecosystem characteristics and biogeochemical processes along disturbance sequences in degrading tundra landscapes.
  • Contribute to the supervision of PhD and MSc projects.

Your profile:

  • Higher education degree (PhD) in natural or atmospheric sciences (e.g. geo-ecology or other geo-science, biology, meteorology or environmental physics).
  • Experience in conducting observational approaches to investigate biogeochemical and/or biogeophysical processes in the field is essential.
  • Experience in one or several of the following disciplines is important: Arctic biogeochemistry, wetland ecosystems, disturbance processes, multi-variate statistics.
  • Very good written and spoken English is essential.
  • Experience in scientific programming is considered beneficial.
  • They seek a flexible and proactive person (m/f/d) who is able to work both independently as well as in a larger team.

Their offer:

This is a full-time post-doctoral position to be filled from March 01, 2024, but starting no later than May 01, 2024, with current funding guaranteed for a duration of 24 months. Part-time work is generally possible. The position will be evaluated and graded following the collective agreement according to TVöD Bund; in addition, they will provide a pension plan based on the public service (VBL).

The Max Planck Society (MPS) strives for gender equality and diversity. The MPS aims to increase the proportion of women in areas where they are underrepresented. Women are therefore explicitly encouraged to apply. They welcome applications from all fields. The Max Planck Society has set itself the goal of employing more severely disabled people. Applications from severely disabled persons are expressly encouraged.

Your application:

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Mathias Göckede ( Send your application with cover letter, curriculum vitae as well as names and contact information of two references summarised in a PDF file (max. 10 MB) by 15 January 2024, quoting the reference number 23/2023 by e-mail to or by post to:

Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
Personalbüro: Kennwort “Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter / PostDoc”
Hans-Knöll-Straße 10
07745 Jena

They ask that you do not use application folders, but only submit copies, as your documents will be destroyed in accordance with data protection regulations after the application process has been completed. They look forward to receiving your application.