PhD Opportunity: Greenhouse gas emissions from subsea permafrost, Stockholm University

PhD in Environmental Science focusing on greenhouse gas emissions from subsea permafrost at Stockholm University, Sweden

The Department of Environmental Science is one of the largest departments at the Faculty of Science of Stockholm University. They have a strong focus on research, spanning from couplings between climate change and biogeochemical cycles (atmosphere-land-ocean) to the sources, transport and effects of environmental contaminants. The department consists of four units (chemical contaminants, atmospheric science, biogeochemistry and (eco)toxicology) with more than 170 researchers, PhD students, technical and administrative staff from over 30 countries. They are deeply engaged also in the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, a national centre of excellence that facilitates research, teaching and outreach related to the Earth’s climate across disciplines.

Research in the Biogeochemistry Unit focuses on the cycles of carbon, nutrients and trace metals on land, in water and in the atmosphere, and their interaction with human activities and climate. The unit has a strong and long-standing research focus on the impact of global warming on Arctic environments with the overarching goal to improve the systems understanding and future projections of biogeochemical cycles in this system.

They are now seeking a PhD student to complement their team, focusing on subsea permafrost in the Arctic Ocean and its relationship to greenhouse gas emissions.

Project description:

Subsea permafrost formed by flooding of land permafrost in the early Holocene, and now extends over large areas under the Arctic Ocean. High concentrations of methane have been observed in water above subsea permafrost and might be related to subsea permafrost thaw through several mechanisms: Subsea permafrost might act as a lid on methane deposits below or within (including thermogenic gas deposits and methane hydrates), and its thaw might open pathways for gas transport to the water and the atmosphere. Methane can also be freshly produced by microbial organic matter decomposition in thawing subsea permafrost. On the other hand, microbial methane oxidation in subsea permafrost can remove methane before it reaches the water column. Their current understanding of subsea permafrost, its extent, thaw rates, the organic matter and microorganisms within, and its relationship to the high methane concentrations above is very limited, since observation-based data are rare.

This PhD position will be associated with the Wallenberg Academy Fellowship project SuPerTip (Quantifying methane emissions from the subsea permafrost tipping system) that aims to provide an observationally-constrained estimate of current and future methane emissions from thawing subsea permafrost. The PhD student will contribute to this aim by providing observational, quantitative data on subsea permafrost and the biogeochemical processes happening as subsea permafrost thaws. This becomes possible through a rare set of subsea permafrost samples from the Russian Arctic Ocean available at Stockholm University (see e.g. Wild et al. 2022 Nature Communications). The planned PhD work might include laboratory experiments, isotopic analyses and molecular biomarker analyses, and a detailed research plan will be developed by student and supervisors in the first months of the thesis work. For more information, please contact Ass. Prof. Dr. Birgit Wild (

Qualification requirements:

To meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

In order to meet the specific entry requirements, for doctoral studies in Environmental Science, at least 45 of the credits at the second cycle must be in one of the natural sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics, or Meteorology) including a 30 credits thesis project. The applicant should also have 30 credits in other natural science subjects different from the major.

Please note that it is possible to apply for the position while your master studies are still ongoing. The degree must be finished (qualification requirements must be met) before the student is officially admitted to the PhD program, but the timing of that has some flexibility. If you are still working on your master studies (e.g. your master thesis), please indicate in your application when you expect to finish your master degree.


The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their ability to successfully pursue the research education. Special emphasis is put on the applicant’s knowledge and skills within the subject area, ability to express themselves verbally and in writing, analytical aptitude, creativity, initiative and independence, and a capacity for working together with others. The evaluation will be made based on the relevance of past education and experience, grades from previous university courses (in particular at the advanced level), the quality and ambition of the independent project work, references, a cover letter motivating the candidate’s interest, and interviews.

They are looking for a highly motivated person with a strong interest in Arctic environments and in disentangling the biogeochemical processes that control greenhouse gas fluxes in these systems. A background in e.g. Environmental Sciences, Biology, or Geosciences would be highly suitable. Collaborative skills and proficiency in English are required.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: and regulations.

Terms of employment:

Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship.

The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.

Union representatives:


Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. 

Please include the following information with your application:

  • Your contact details and personal data
  • Your highest degree
  • Your language skills
  • Contact details for 2–3 references

and, in addition, please include the following documents:

  • Cover letter motivating your interest for this position
  • CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience, and a list of degree projects/theses
  • Degree certificates and grades confirming that you meet the general and specific entry requirements (no more than 6 files)
  • Optional letters of recommendation (no more than 6 files)
  • Degree projects/theses (no more than 6 files).

The instructions for applicants are available at: How to apply for a position.

Stockholm University contributes to the development of sustainable democratic society through knowledge, enlightenment and the pursuit of truth.

Deadline: 15 February 2024