Waves to Weather

Breadcrumb Navigation


PhD position (B6)

Disentangling the coupling of convection and tropical waves

This PhD position contributes to project B6 "New data assimilation approaches to better predict tropical convection".

Primary supervisors: Prof. Dr. Peter Knippertz and Prof. Dr. Corinna Hoose
Other project leader: PD Dr. Tijana Janjic-Pfander

The Cloud Physics and Atmospheric Dynamics groups at the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), offers a PhD position within Phase 2 of the collaborative research center "Waves to Weather" (W2W). The groups are internationally renowned for their work on cloud microphysics and tropical meteorology.

KIT is a distinguished research university that combines three core tasks — research, education and innovation — into a single mission. With 9,400 employees and 25,000 students, it is one of the largest institutions of research and higher education in natural sciences and engineering in Europe. In the area of Atmospheric Science KIT was ranked #1 in Germany and #6 in Europe in the last Shanghai Ranking.

Weather prediction in the tropics remains one of the most challenging issues in modern weather forecasting with errors in operational analysis typically maximizing in the tropics. In project B6 of W2W, particular attention will be paid to the coupling of convection (and thus rainfall) with tropical waves. This coupling is suspected to provide a potential source of predictability on synoptic to planetary scales. We combine approaches from data assimilation, cloud microphysics, and atmospheric dynamics to answer what limits practical predictability in the tropics and how we can narrow the gap between practical and intrinsic predictability in the tropics.

In the B6 PhD project, the behavior of convectively coupled equatorial waves in idealized convective-permitting tropical channel simulations with the nonhydrostatic model ICON will be assessed and compared to real observations and simulations. The roles of microphysical processes, surface fluxes, radiation, and advection for the coupling will be investigated. The characteristics of wave features (e.g. propagation, intensity, vertical structure) and their influence on convection will be extracted using filtering tools developed at KIT. A verification strategy will be developed to evaluate the forecasts produced with data assimilation experiments conducted by a Postdoc at LMU in Munich. The role of cloud processes will be investigated through sensitivity experiments targeting the most important microphysical controls (e.g. cloud condensation nuclei concentrations). Ultimately this will enable us to quantify the relative impacts of data assimilation, horizontal resolution, convective parameterization, and treatment of microphysical processes in the numerical model.


The project will be conducted in close collaboration with Tijana Janjić-Pfander and a postdoctoral researcher at LMU, who will focus on the data assimilation aspects. For example, the LMU group will produce forecasts with different data assimilation approaches, while the KIT group will apply wave filtering and other diagnostics, conduct verification and other meteorological analyzes.

The ideal candidate holds a MSc in Meteorology, Physics, or a related field and has already some experience in numerical modeling and/or in the analysis of large data sets. Besides very good knowledge of English, experience with Fortran, Unix, and statistics software would be an advantage.

The position is initially funded for 3 years with possible extension until June 2023 and should start as soon as possible. It is remunerated according to TV-L E13 (75%). Applicants are asked to specify their desired starting date and to give the contact details of two academic referees.

W2W features an innovative program for the development of early career researchers based on self-government. In addition to self-organized activities such as workshops, trainings and a guest program, the successful candidate will have the opportunity, if desired, to pursue an international research visit of at least one week. The consortium conducts an ambitious program to gradually enhance gender equality on all career levels within the academic fields combined in W2W.

KIT actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion, and as an equal opportunity employer, KIT explicitly encourages applications from women as well as from all others who will bring additional diversity to the university’s research and teaching. KIT provides support for families. Applicants with disabilities will be preferentially considered if suitably qualified.

If you are interested, please apply online here!