PhD position

Model error and uncertainty at the midlatitude tropopause using airborne lidar observations

Starting date


Duration of contract

3 years


According to the German 13 TVöD

Type of employment


"Cutting-edge research requires excellent minds – particularly more females – at all levels. Launch your mission with us and send in your application now!" Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund - Chair of the DLR Executive Board

The department “Lidar” at the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics develops ground-based, airborne and space-borne lidar systems and applies them for active remote sensing of key meteorological parameters and atmospheric trace gases to facilitate research in weather and climate as well as in air traffic safety. One of the fields of research is the application of airborne and space-borne lidar observations to study atmospheric dynamics, to identify gaps in our observation system and to demonstrate the relevance of these new observation types.

Prediction of the daily weather in mid-latitudes depends on correctly predicting the thermodynamic and dynamic structure of the tropopause and the Rossby waves that propagate along it. Recently, lidar measurements have shown significant errors in NWP models with respect to the strong gradients in wind, temperature and moisture that are found at the tropopause. Lidar and dropsonde profile observations taken during the North Atlantic Waveguide and Downstream Impact Experiment (NAWDEX, provide a unique opportunity to investigate the representation of the tropopause in NWP models and study the impact on forecast error growth in the mid-latitudes in a combined approach using campaign data and ensemble methods.

The project is embedded in the Transregional Collaborative Research Center "Waves to Weather" ( of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and will address the following topics:

  • Comparison of observations and model fields to quantify errors and to obtain a coherent view of their distribution near the tropopause.
  • Analysis of assimilation output from the ECMWF ensemble data assimilation system to investigate the impact of individual NAWDEX observations on the tropopause structure.
  • Study the temporal and spatial evolution of tropopause sharpness using state-of-the-art 3D visualization methods (in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Hamburg)
  • Application of ensemble sensitivity analysis (ESA) to study the role of the diagnosed analysis uncertainties for the downstream weather evolution and to investigate how physical processes impact the tropopause structure.

Your qualifications:

  • MSc in Meteorology, Physics, or other Geosciences
  • Some experience in the analysis of observational data and/or NWP data analysis and diagnostics
  • Very good knowledge of English
  • Experience with Unix, and statistical/visualisation software (e.g. python, IDL, MATLAB)

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy places great value on a healthy family and work-life-balance as well as equal opportunities for persons of all genders (m/f/non-binary). Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

Dr. Andreas Schäfler
Phone: +49 8153 28-2719

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Vacancy 41353

HR department Oberpfaffenhofen

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DLR site Oberpfaffenhofen

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DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics

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