MEMO2: MEthane goes MObile – MEsurements and MOdelling

ESR8: Isotopic characterization of methane source categories across Europe

Supervisor: Prof. Thomas Röckmann (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), co-supervisor: Prof. Euan Nisbet (Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom)
Employer: Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Project description: CH4 emissions are a major contributor to Europe’s global warming impact, but Europe’s CH4 emissions are not well quantified. Effective emission reduction can only be achieved if sources are properly quantified, and mitigation efforts are verified. Isotope information can help to identify and quantify emissions from different methane sources. The successful candidate will carry out isotope ratio measurements (δ13C and δD) on CH4 in order to 1) distinguish between different source categories and 2) obtain information on the spatial and temporal variability of isotopic source signatures of the main CH4 sources on the European scale. The position is part of the European Initial Training Network MEMO2 and the candidate will analyse samples collected within the network, which allows characterizing CH4 from similar source types at many different locations across Europe. In addition, the in-situ CH4 isotope instrument at Utrecht University will be deployed at three selected stations (Paris, London, Silesia) for several months of CH4 isotope monitoring. Data will be used to produce EU scale source signature maps for inventories that can be used for isotope modelling in collaboration with the network.

Secondments: The successful candidate will spend 1 month at Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom, for intercomparison of techniques and in-situ measurements in London, and further 1 month at Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, and 2 months AGH University of Science and Technology, Poland, for installation and operation of in-situ systems.

We are searching for: The Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Group (APCG) of the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht (IMAU) is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate to work in the field of isotopic characterization of CH4 sources. The position is immediately available for a candidate with an excellent master’s degree in physics, chemistry or geosciences. We expect further particular interest and a strong background in atmospheric and environmental sciences; experience and proficiency with experimental techniques and data analysis tools. The candidate must have excellent English language skills; knowledge of Dutch is advantageous. Candidates must be willing to travel abroad for secondments and measurement campaigns, and to present their research to an international research community. As this project requires close collaboration within the consortium, candidates are expected to be excellent team players. The participation in workshops and secondments during the project is mandatory. According to EU eligibility criteria, researchers may be of any nationality, BUT must be at their early carrier stage and may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the application deadline.

We offer: We offer a highly stimulating research environment with excellent infrastructure and a broad interdisciplinary surrounding. Working place is Utrecht, The Netherlands. The candidate is offered a full-time position for 4 years at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht. The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension scheme, a partially paid parental leave, flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. The research group will provide the candidate with necessary support on all aspects of the project. More information you can find on the website: MSCA-ETN projects are part of Horizon 2020 and offer attractive salaries and working conditions following the conditions as described in the respective work programs.

Selection procedure: The selection procedure will follow the Code of Conduct for Recruitment. Candidates will be selected first on EU eligibility criteria, second on qualifications. The position is available immediately, the short-listed candidates will be invited for interview early spring.

Deadline: Eligible applications received before  31 July 2017 will receive full consideration.

Contact: Please upload your application material before 30 April 2017 by using the vacancy portal of the University Utrecht.  The application material should include a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, copies of university and high-school degrees (including grades) and either two letters of recommendation or contact information of two people that can be contacted for reference. For more information on the MEMO2 project, including this and other vacancies, please visit the MEMO2 website.

Additional information about this position can be obtained from Prof. Thomas Röckmann, ( or Dr. Sylvia Walter (

For more information about the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, please visit the IMAU website.