Scientist Tipping Points

Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute

  • Stand­plaats De Bilt
  • Contractduur Two years
  • Uren per week 36
  • Maand­salaris €3.503 - €5.343
  • Niveau Master/doctoraal
  • Vakgebied Onderzoek / wetenschap
  • Reageren voor 9 december Nog 12 dagen
  • Vacaturenummer KNMI 2022-70
  • Plaatsingsdatum 18 november 2022
  • Dienst­verband Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd


As a scientist in the field of climate physics and dynamics you will contribute to the physical understanding of climate change based on mathematical modelling of physical processes and in particular on the physical understanding of abrupt changes in the physical system associated with threshold behavior of its subsystems that can act as tipping elements when certain thresholds are exceeded and subsystems possessing multiple equilibria given a certain forcing/climate background state can be pushed to a new equilibrium. You will be based at De Bilt.

The project
The EU-funded international OptiMESM project (Optimal High Resolution Earth System Models for Exploring Future Climate Changes) will develop a novel generation of Earth system models (ESMs), combining high resolution with an unprecedented representation of key physical and biogeochemical processes. These models will be used to deliver cutting-edge and policy-relevant knowledge around the consequences of reaching or exceeding different levels of global warming, including the risk of rapid change in key Earth system phenomena and the regional impacts arising both from the level of global warming and the occurrence of abrupt changes. OptimESM will realise these goals by bringing together four ESM groups with Integrated Assessment Modelling teams, as well as experts in model evaluation, Earth system processes, machine learning, climate impacts and science communication.

OptimESM will further develop new policy-relevant emission and land use scenarios, including ones that realise the Paris Agreement, and others that temporarily or permanently overshoot the Paris targets. Using these scenarios, OptimESM will deliver long-term projections that will increase our understanding of the risk for triggering potential tipping points in phenomena such as; ice sheets, sea ice, ocean circulation, marine ecosystems, permafrost, and terrestrial ecosystems. OptimESM will further our understanding of the processes controlling such tipping points, attribute the risk of exceeding various tipping points to the level of global warming, and develop a range of techniques to forewarn the occurrence of tipping points in the real world.

In this project KNMI will work on improving the EC-Earth model, executing model runs, analyzing tipping points and abrupt climate changes, and regional weather extremes.

What will you be doing?

The main goal of our work is contributing to the development of an “Abrupt change risk-catalogue”, documenting the likelihood of abrupt change in the phenomena studied as a function of emission scenario, global mean warming, rate of warming and the duration of warming above a given target. Such a register will help inform mitigation policies aimed at identifying “safe” future pathways to avoid (or reduce the risk of) abrupt change. In addition to the risk register we will also develop techniques aimed at early detection of abrupt change, extending this body of work to consider the onset of abrupt change against the background of a changing climate. This work will feed into broader, international efforts aimed at developing real-world, early warning observing systems of abrupt change.

You will work together with project leader Prof. Sybren Drijfhout on the detection and analysis of regime shifts, abrupt climate change, tipping points and early warning signals in future climate change simulations (including overshoot scenarios in terms of global warming), performed by state-of-the-art earth system models by applying (and possibly improving) an existing search and detection program together with our Italian partner. Together with the University of Exeter you will compare and interpret results using analytical models and results from dynamical systems theory. In addition, you will work with partners from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton on an assessment of controlling processes and feedback analysis of abrupt changes in sea-ice and ocean circulation.

You will join the enthusiastic team working on EC-Earth and understanding global climate change. You will be part of the global modelling cluster of the RDWK department, and contribute to model evaluation and improvement of the European EC-Earth climate model.

You are an enthusiastic scientist with a background in mathematics, meteorology, or climate science, who likes to work in an international, and multi-disciplinary environment, while also having the perseverance to overcome challenges from technical, scientific and communicative nature.


  • you have a completed PhD in mathematics, physics, meteorology, physical oceanography or climate science;
  • you have affinity with developing theoretical mathematical models, programming and analysis of large datasets;
  • you are experienced in programming in Python (and Fortran), and preferably Linux applied for the development of new source code;
  • it would be a pro if you have (some) knowledge of dynamical systems theory and some experience in complex system studies/complexity science;
  • you are fluent in English (spoken and written) and preferably have a basic understanding of the Dutch language

In addition to the requirements, you recognize you.rself in the following characteristics: you are steadfast and adhere to scientific integrity. You can think in new ways to generate new solutions. You regularly exchange knowledge, information and ideas with others and actively seek feedback on your own ideas. Furthermore, you also have a results-oriented attitude and the skills to manage your work in a timely manner and make progress in the project

  • Salaris­niveau schaal 11
  • Maand­salaris Min €3.503 Max. €5.343 (bruto)
  • Dienst­verband Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd
  • Contract­duur Two years
  • Maximaal aantal uren per week 36

Other conditions of employement

In addition to your salary, you will receive an Individual Budget (IKB). The IKB consists of funds (16.37% of your gross annual salary) and time. With the IKB, you make choices that are right for you, and you can decide on some of your employment conditions yourself. For example, you could opt to receive part of your monthly salary at a date of your choosing. You could also use the budget to purchase additional leave, or vice versa, or spend it on tax-efficient purchases. The Government of the Netherlands strongly values personal growth and career development and offers a wide range of options to achieve that. The fringe benefits include various study facilities, company fitness, a full compensation of your public transport expenses for your commute and partially paid parental leave.

  • the first interviews will take place on Monday, 19 December 2022;
  • start date: 1 February 2023 with a duration of 2 years ;
  • 36h/week, salary scale 11;
  • obtaining references is part of the application process. An (online) pre-selection test, an assessment, making a case and (online) screening via databases, among others, can be part of the application process;
  • acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

Meer over jouw toekomstige afdeling

The department Research and Development of Weather and Climate models (RDWK) investigates and develops research tools for weather and air quality prediction applications and climate research. We work on detailed physical processes, data assimilation, long term climate projections and practical applications including storm surge forecasts and statistics of extremes. RDWK participates in international projects directed towards a variety of weather and climate related research and development areas. The department has a strong international network.

The department performs its activities in collaboration with partners like ACCORD, EC-Earth, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and universities. We work for the national road and water authority Rijkswaterstaat, the Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management, the Dutch research funding organisation (NWO), the European Copernicus programme and other European research programmes; and on servicing the operational weather forecast centre, climate scenarios and strategic research. The department collaborates with the other KNMI departments.

Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute

The weather is fickle, the soil moves and the climate changes. For our safety and prosperity, we need to know what risks and opportunities this brings. And: how we can best prepare ourselves. The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) is the national knowledge and data center for weather, climate and seismology. Reliable, independent and focused on what the Netherlands needs. For a safe Netherlands that is prepared for the impact of weather, climate and earthquakes.

We use our core values - Development, Cooperation and Relevance - to achieve our ambition, both within and outside KNMI, nationally and internationally. We develop our knowledge and expertise and work together to create a single KNMI that makes a difference to society!

Talent as the basis, diversity as the strength
The KNMI is an inclusive organization. An organization that provides space for everyone and uses the strength of its diverse workforce to achieve better results together for the Netherlands. Inclusive means that everyone feels involved and valued; not in spite of their differences, but thanks to them.

Organizationally, KNMI falls under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) is committed to a safe, accessible, and livable Netherlands. That is why the Ministry is working on powerful connections by road, rail, water and air. And IenW protects against flooding, ensures the quality of air, water and soil and the realization of a circular economy.


Voor meer informatie over deze vacature:

Werenfried Spit, head of the RDWK department

+31 (0)6–10170719

Voor meer informatie over de sollicitatieprocedure:

Edith Gerritsen-Rijlaarsdam, advisor recruitment & selection

+31 (0)6-57499672


Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute nodigt je uit op hun site te solliciteren. Via onderstaande knop verlaat je deze site ga je direct naar het sollicitatieformulier. Het Rijk hecht waarde aan een diverse en inclusieve organisatie. Werken in divers samengestelde teams maakt ons effectiever, innovatiever en het werk leuker. Eenieder wordt daarom uitgenodigd te solliciteren.

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