PhD Position-The impact of vegetation changes on soil moisture over the Dry Chaco, Leuven, Belgium

PhD Position -- The impact of vegetation changes on soil moisture over the Dry Chaco ==========

A consortium of the KU Leuven, UC Louvain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the National University of Tucuman is seeking highly qualified and enthusiastic candidates for 3 PhD Positions in Remote Sensing of Sub-Tropical Forest Degradation and its environmental impacts. The successful applicants will study forest degradation and its environmental impacts in the South American Chaco using satellite remote sensing, modeling and in situ data. The Chaco ecoregion, stretching into parts of Argentina,Bolivia, and Paraguay, has experienced widespread land-use change with drastic outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystem service provisioning. The three positions are embedded in an international research project focusing on “Continuous satellite-based indicators for mapping subtropical forestdegradation and its environmental impacts (ReForcha)”.

The PhD position offered at the KU Leuven, in collaboration with UC Louvain, aims at updating the static climatological vegetation parameters in state-of-the-art land surface models grouped within a Land Information System (LIS), using satellite-based dynamic vegetation information. The candidate will explore the use of ensemble land surface model simulations to evaluate the effect of dynamic vegetation information derived from moderate-resolution sensors (such as MODIS) on soil moisture estimates over the Dry Chaco ecosystem. Furthermore, the analysis of simulated and independent satellite-observed soil moisture (e.g. from Sentinel, ASCAT, AMSR-E, SMOS, SMAP) will be aligned with trend analyses of spectral vegetation indices to identify long-term phenological changes.

We are searching for an enthusiastic researcher with a keen interest in remote sensing and land surface processes and eager to work in an international setting. You will be part of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the KU Leuven and the Earth and Life Institute at the UC Louvain (Belgium) working under the supervision of prof. dr.
ir. Gabrielle De Lannoy, and prof. dr. Veerle Vanacker. As a PhD student you will be enrolled within the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School for Science, Engineering & Technology (


Only applicants with all of the following skills will be considered:

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


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


Applicants should submit their resume, along with a motivation letter and two names for possible references on-line (mandatory). The starting date is January 1, 2016, but can be negotiated. For more information please contact prof. dr. ir. Gabrielle De Lannoy, tel.: +32 16 37 67 13,
mail: gabrielle[dot]delannoy[at]kuleuven[dot]be or prof. dr. Veerle Vanacker, tel +32 10 478506, e-mail:

More information:

You can apply for this job no later than November 15, 2016 via the online application tool :


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