Postdoc position for Research Department 4 - Complexity Science


The climate needs bright minds. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development. It is one of the world's leading research institutions in its field and offers natural and social scientists from around the world an inspiring environment for excellent interdisciplinary research.

PIK’s Research Department 4 – Complexity Science – applies and develops methods to understand all aspects of the global climate and sustainability problem. The research ranges from physical analysis of extreme weather events to network analysis of societal phenomena.

For the EU-funded H2020 project “Tipping Points of the Earth System” (TiPES),  PIK is offering he following position, starting as soon as possible:

Postdoc position  (m/f/d): Earth system science, with focus on the resilience of the Amazon rainforest

 (Position number: 05-2021-postdoc position)

The successful candidate will investigate the resilience of the Amazon rainforest to ongoing anthropogenic climate change. The position is funded for 2 years. Remuneration is in accordance with the German public tariff scheme (TV-L Brandenburg), salary group E 13. This is a full-time (100%) position with a working time of 40 hours per week. The position can be filled on a part-time basis.

The TiPES Project:

Several subsystems of the Earth may respond abruptly at critical future levels of anthropogenic forcing, which have been associated with tipping points (TPs). It is paramount to identify safe operating spaces in terms of these critical forcing levels, in order to prevent harmful transitions to alternative, undesirable states of the Earth and its subsystems. The mechanisms leading to abrupt climate transitions are only partly understood, and reliable warning signals for forthcoming transitions are urgently needed. TiPES addresses these questions in a joint effort of 18 European institutions, combining paleoclimatology, time series analysis, Earth system modelling of past and future climates, applied mathematics, and dynamical system theory.

Key responsibilities:

The successful candidate will be part of work package WP3 of the TiPES project, which focusses on the analysis and modelling of potential tipping elements (TEs) in the Earth system. Specifically, the candidate will be expected to work on quantification of the stability of the Amazon rainforest in view of anthropogenic climate change and deforestation, and on the coupled dynamics of the Amazon ecosystem with South American climate as well as with other proposed Earth system TEs. For this purpose, the candidate is expected to use both data-driven methods and intermediate-complexity Earth system models with integrated vegetation dynamics.


  • Ph.D. in physics, mathematics, meteorology, geosciences or a related field.
  • Experience in dynamical / complex system theory and in working with large data sets is required.
  • Excellent skills in programming and numerical / statistical analysis of simulated and observed data are required.
  • Experience in working with intermediate-complexity Earth system models, and in marticular in modelling atmosphere-vegetation interactions, is of advantage.
  • Willingness to travel for work (project meetings, workshops, and longer-term research visits) and take part in further training.
  • High level of competence in oral and written English.

We expect:

  • the ability to work independently and on your own initiative
  • a methodical and systematic approach
  • structured and goal-oriented thinking
  • capacity to familiarise yourself quickly with new topics
  • creativity and openness to new approaches
  • reliability and a high level of motivation
  • capacity for teamwork.

We offer:

  • The chance to be part of a interdisciplinary collaboration of leading European research institutions
  • Participation at international workshops and conferences
  • A stimulating working environment in an internationally recognised research institute on Potsdam's beautiful, historic Telegrafenberg campus, a short commuting distance from Berlin
  • a collective pay scheme and associated benefits

PIK seeks to increase the share of women in scientific positions and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. In cases of equal qualification and within the given legal scope, women will be given preference. Applications by persons with a migration background are expressly encouraged. Applications of disabled persons with equal qualifications will be regarded favourably. PIK also encourages applications by parents returning from parental leave.

Please apply by 28.02.2020 directly using our application form.

For further information or to discuss the position please contact Dr. Niklas Boers by e-mail: