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PhD position in “Carbon and nutrient balances as affected by soil erosion in Europe”  

Carbon and nutrient balances as affected by soil erosion in Europe Background

Soil erosion is a global threat to sustainable agriculture, as it causes a loss of carbon and essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, and decreases the water-holding capacity of soils. This PhD topic will assess for the first time the current losses of soil carbon and nutrients and the feedback on crop productivity at the scale of the European continent under different climate and management scenarios. It will use new datasets, machine learning methods and an advanced simulation model.

The PhD subject is offered for 3 years by the Joint Research Center of the European Commission in Ispra (Italy) and the CLAND convergence institute ( from University of Paris Saclay (France) at Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, with an equal time in both locations.

Overall aim Improve and apply advanced numerical models and large datasets already developed by the host institutions to assess the impacts of erosion from intense rainfall on the nutrient balances of agricultural soils in Europe. Simulations will be performed for the recent past and future climate scenarios. The effectiveness of solutions to reduce erosion from improved land use and land management, including engineering and conservation practices will be tested using this new model framework to provide science-based information for decision making on soil and agricultural management.

Specific aims and working steps

● Select target erosion-vulnerable areas in Europe where georeferenced datasets on crop cover and management practices exist

● Prepare input datasets and forcing data using machine learning tools

● Adapt and calibrate the Carbon Erosion DYNAMics (CE-DYNAM) to quantify soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus losses from water erosion

● Perform model simulations over Europe given past and future climate change, and evaluate the effect of conservation agriculture practices


● Candidates should hold (or are near completion of) a Master in Soil Science, Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Climate change (or a related field)

● Programming skills, e.g. in Python, R or Google earth engine

● Knowledge on machine learning, spatial analyses, statistics

● Scientific interest for climate change impacts and agricultural sustainability

● Have the nationality of a Member State of the EU or a country associated to the Research Framework Programs (Horizon2020). Candidates from other countries may also apply providing they have a residence and work permit in Italy

How to apply

Applications should consist of a CV, motivation letter, and contact details of at least 2 references, and should be emailed to

Dr. Victoria Naipal (, Dr Philippe Martin ( and Dr. Panos

Panagos ( until the 31st of July, 2020.

For more information on the host institutions, PhD program, and to apply :

7108 (4 Ko)



L. D'armancourt, dépêche du 29/06/2020
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