PhD fellowship in Earth Observation of Disturbed Wetlands

 PhD fellowship in Earth Observation of Disturbed Wetlands: Taking Stock of High-Resolution Mapping in Support to Global Upscaling of GHG budget

The Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in Earth Observation of natural and human disturbances of wetlands using state-of-the-art satellite remote sensing systems. The PhD position is part of the Global Wetland Center funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, which is set to contribute to combating climate change by assessing how wetland management around the world can reduce emissions and increase the uptake of greenhouse gases.

Start date is 1 January 2025 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project

Wetlands are dynamic ecosystems that undergo continuous natural fluctuations. They are under increased pressure from anthropogenic exploitation and ongoing climate change. Subtle changes, such as shifts in vegetation composition, alterations in hydrological patterns, or degradation of habitat quality, may occur gradually over time and can go unnoticed in the absence of detailed assessment and monitoring rooted in remote sensing satellite systems.

Mapping disturbance in wetlands is essential for accurate greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting. Disturbances in wetlands, such as drainage, conversion to agriculture, or urban development, can alter carbon storage and fluxes, leading to emissions of GHGs like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Similarly, natural disturbances such as droughts, wild fires and flooding, may also affect the GHG budget of wetlands at various time scales. By detecting subtle changes in wetlands, particularly those related to vegetation dynamics, soil conditions, and hydrological regimes, we can better understand the factors influencing carbon dynamics in these ecosystems.

High-resolution imagery can significantly enhance our ability to detect and quantify changes in wetland ecosystems, enabling e.g.,amongst others more accurate estimation of GHG emissions and removals associated with wetland degradation and restoration. This information is crucial for assessing the net impact of wetlands on the climate system and for developing effective strategies to mitigate GHG emissions and enhance carbon sequestration in wetland ecosystems.

The role of the PhD student will be (1) To develop research techniques for improved assessment and monitoring of disturbances in wetlands ecosystems based on relevant remote sensing technology, with a focus on change detection; and (2) Support the work of the Global Wetland Center in relation to upscaling GHG emission models from catchment to global scale.

The project includes an international research exchange stay and the potential for conducting fieldwork at relevant case areas.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Stephanie Horion, Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, Co-supervisor is Prof. Rasmus Fensholt, Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management,

Who are we looking for?
We are seeking a highly motivated individual with good interpersonal and communication skills. Fluency in spoken and written English is a requirement. As criteria for the assessment, emphasis will also be laid on previous publications (if any), relevant experience in remote sensing and wetlands, as well as on programming skills (e.g. r, python). Experience with dense time series of high-resolution imagery (<30m spatial resolution) and machine/deep learning techniques are an advantage and proven experience with handling and processing large image datasets. Experience with remote sensing of peatlands is considered an advantage but is not formal a requirement.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?
Your work place will be the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), which conducts research and education on the past, present and future physical, chemical and biological environments of the Earth and their interactions with societal and human systems to provide graduates and research in support of sustainable future solutions for society. The department has strong experience in interdisciplinary collaboration within and beyond the department.

The PhD student will also be part of the the Global wetland Center and will join a large team of 10+ PhD students, postdocs and junior/senior scientists.

Further information on the Department can be found at

Further information on the GWC can be found at

The PhD programme
Depending of your level of education, you can undertake the PhD programme as either:

  • Option A: A three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.
  • Option B: An up to five year full-time study programme within the framework of the integrated MSc and PhD programme (the 3+5 scheme), if you do not have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master´s degree – but you have an education equivalent to a Danish bachelors´s degree.


Option A: Getting into a position on the regular PhD programme

Qualifications needed for the regular programme

To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Option B: Getting into a position on the integrated MSc and PhD programme

Qualifications needed for the integrated MSc and PhD programme
If you do not have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master´s degree, you might be qualified for the integrated MSc and PhD programme, if you have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish bachelor´s degree. Here you can find out, if that is relevant for you: General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.  

Terms of the integrated programme
To be eligible for the integrated scholarship, you are (or are eligible to be) enrolled at one of the faculty’s master programmes.

Students on the integrated programme will enroll as PhD students simultaneously with completing their enrollment in this MSc degree programme.

The duration of the integrated programme is up to five years, and depends on the amount of credits that you have passed on your MSc programme. For further information about the study programme, please see:, “Study Structures”.

Until the MSc degree is obtained, (when exactly two years of the full 3+5 programme remains), the grant will be paid partly in the form of 48 state education grant portions (in Danish: “SU-klip”) plus salary for work (teaching, supervision etc.) totalling a workload of 150 working hours per year.
A PhD grant portion is currently DKK 6.820 before tax.

When you have obtained the MSc degree, you will transfer to the salary-earning part of the scholarship for a period of two years. At that point, the terms of employment and payment will be according to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks in both PhD programmes

  • Complete and pass the MSc education in accordance with the curriculum of the MSc programme (ONLY when you are attending the integrated MSc and PhD programme)
  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project


We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Good language skills


Application and Assessment Procedure
Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  • A cover letter (max 2 page) describing your background, personal qualities, research interest and motivation for applying for this position, as well as an outline of research ideas for the position
  • CV (max 2 pages)
  • Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
  • A short abstract of the MSc Thesis (max. 300 words)
  • 1-3 reference letters (if any)

Application deadline:
The deadline for applications is sunday 15 September 2024, 23:59 GMT +2.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in weeks 45 and 46.


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.


Københavns Universitet giver sine knap 10.000 medarbejdere muligheder for at udnytte deres talent fuldt ud i et ambitiøst, uformelt miljø. Vi sikrer traditionsrige og moderne rammer om uddannelser og fri forskning på højt internationalt niveau. Vi søger svar og løsninger på fælles problemer og gør ny viden tilgængelig og nyttig for andre.


Ansøgningsfrist: 15-09-2024
Ansættelsesdato: 01-01-2025
Arbejdstid: Fuldtid
Afdeling/Sted: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning

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