The Department of Geosciences of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland has an opening for a PhD student in the context of the Swiss network project « NCCR-Climate » beginning August 1, 2005 or any time thereafter

The successful candidate will work in the field of climatic change and climate impacts research, with a particular focus on one or more of the following domains:

Winter and summer tourism in the Alps; this implies knowledge of changes in snow amount and timing of snow season, water availability, and the likelihood and persistence of summer heat. The focus will be on specific regions, in particular those with sharply contrasting conditions (e.g., resorts of the Fribourg Alps as opposed to higher elevation resorts in Valais or Graubünden) in order to assess the monetary consequences of changing snow behavior or persistent heat waves on the financial income of Swiss mountain resorts.
Impact of climate change on tourism demand and supply; adaptation strategies and economic costs for the Swiss economy will be established. This aspect of the proposal will enable a quantification of the monetary impacts of climatic change on summer and winter tourism, beyond the often “intuitive” results that have emerged from previous studies related to this topic.
Changes in hydropower potential; this will involve quantifying seasonal differences in precipitation and snow conditions compared to current climate, the estimation of the timing of high and low waters in dams. The impacts of extreme events, particularly heavy precipitation that generates floods or combinations of precipitation and early snow-melt, need to be considered here, because of the implications for regulations governing flood protection and water retention capacity.
Impact of climate change on future energy demand and supply (in particular, hydroelectricity) in Swit¬zerland. It is expected that shifts in seasonal energy demand during warmer winters and hotter summers will change consumption patterns that may not be compatible with the traditional energy supply mechanisms.
Vulnerability of buildings and other infrastructure to weather extremes; this will involve the establishment of damage functions enabling damage costs, based on mean and peak wind velocities as computed by fine-resolution (1-5 km grids) RCM simulations that are becoming available now; there will also be a “geomorphologic hazards” module, in the sense that wind-storm damage can lead to a range of non-linear effects that lead to additional hazards (e.g., forest damage that expose slopes to land-slides and debris flows hazards, before the vegetation cover is once again sufficiently abundant to anchor soils).

The candidate will work in an interdisciplinary environment, bridging aspects of the physical and socio-economic sciences.

Applications, including a detailed academic record, should be sent before June 22 via e-mail to:

Prof. Martin Beniston
Head of the Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
More information at: