PhD - Hydrological Change in Tropical Peatlands KU Leuven Division of Soil and Water Management Belgium


We are searching for an enthusiastic candidate who joins our team to exploit the potential of the combined use of land surface modeling and water-sensitive microwave satellite observations for supporting and monitoring management decisions over tropical peat soils. The PhD research will be supervised by dr. Michel Bechtold, prof. Gabrielle De Lannoy and prof. Jan Vanderborght.



Over the last decades, tropical peat soils turned into hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions of global climate relevance. Huge amounts of carbon and nitrogen that accumulated under permanently wet conditions over geological time scales are currently released due to agricultural drainage and large-scale disturbance of hydrological conditions. Future management of tropical peatlands will have a big impact on climate change through 2100 and beyond.


The major science innovations of the PhD project will include the advancement of the peatland hydrology module of a global-scale land surface modeling framework and the development of an inverse modeling and data assimilation approach that optimally merges land simulations and satellite data over peatland areas. A keen interest in remote sensing and mechanistic modeling of environmental processes is crucial for the success of the project.



  • Perform and disseminate highly qualitative research
  • Follow doctoral school
  • Assist in teaching


  • Excellent motivation and grades
  • Master in Bioscience Engineering, Civil or Environmental Engineering, Hydrology, Geography, Geosciences, Meteorology, Remotely Sensed Earth Observation, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Sciences or equivalent
  • Experience with data-processing applications such as Matlab, Python, IDL, R, or other
  • Experience with programming and scientific computing
  • Creative, critical, analytical and innovative mindset
  • Ability to work independently
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English


Only PhD candidates with grades above average can be admitted to the doctoral school.


  • Fully funded PhD scholarship for 4 years; support and training through the Arenberg Doctoral School (
  • Multi-disciplinary and international professiona lenvironment
  • Leuven is a charming historical university town, located in the heart of Western Europe



Only persons strictly matching the above profile should apply. Submit your resume, along with a motivation letter, and two names for references on-line. Make sure to indicate your study grades in your resume. The starting date is March 1st, 2019. For more information, please contact dr.Michel Bechtold, tel.: +32 16 32 01 67, mail:michel[dot]bechtold[at]kuleuven[dot]be.

You can apply for this job no later than February 05, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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