ESG Scientist C Final – Postdoc (f/m)

Utrecht, The Netherlands, SRON [1595]

Field(s) of expertise
Software Engineering Aerospace Engineering
Job type

About this job

SRON’s mission is to bring about breakthroughs in international space research. Therefore the institute develops pioneering technology and advanced space instruments, and uses them to pursue fundamental astrophysical, Earth science, and exoplanetary research. As national expertise institute SRON gives counsel to the Dutch government and coordinates national contributions to internationalspace missions. SRON stimulates the implementation of space science in our society.

Our Earth Science Group has a vacancy for a Postdoc (f/m).

Project OutlineIn October 2017 ESA’s Sentinel-5 Precursor mission was launched with the TROPOMI instrument asits single payload. TROPOMI is a collaboration between the Netherlands and ESA. SRON is the coPrincipal Investigator Institute and responsible for a.o. the operational algorithms for methane. One of our projects on the use of the TROPOMI methane data is a collaboration with ESA and the Canadian company GHGSat Inc. which operates small satellites measuring methane at facility scale resolution (50 meters) for select domains. Within the project we use the daily global methane observations of TROPOMI to guide the GHGSat satellites to potentially interesting localized methane emission sources. These sources include infrastructure in the oil and gas industry, coal mines, and landfills. The aim is to detect large emissions using TROPOMI and subsequently allow localization and identification of the methane leaking facility with GHGSat. We can then quantify these emissions and ultimately support mitigation or fixing the leaks by providing the information to the responsible parties as was done with a huge methane leak from the natural gas industry in central Asia which was then fixed (Varon et al., Geophys. Res. Let., 2019; and e.g.https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/climate/methane-leak-satellite.html).

The combination of TROPOMI and very high spatial resolution instruments like GHGSat offers a new exciting and unique opportunity for finding and localizing methane emission sources. Reducing methane emissions for example from the oil and gas industry is a means to achieve climate impact on the short term.


The main task of the postdoc is to further develop automated methods for the detection, identification, and quantification of localized CH4 sources using TROPOMI observations. TheTROPOMI findings are communicated with the GHGSat team and collaborators at Harvard University, and followed by more in-depth scientific study and subsequent publications.


For this exciting project we are looking for an ambitious, highly motivated and result driven scientist with a PhD degree in computer sciences/(astro)physics/atmospheric sciences or similar degree, with extensive experience and good skills in data analytics and computer programming. Experience with atmospheric modeling, machine learning, or satellite remote sensing would be an asset. Good knowledge of the English language is essential, and the candidate should be capable to work both independently and in a team.

Employment conditions:

Employment of this full-time position as a Scientist C at SRON-Utrecht is by NWO-I (The Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes) and will be for a period of 2 years with the possibility of an extension. The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of NWO-I with a maximum of €4.339,- gross per month on a full-time basis (highly depending on education and relevant experience).

NWO-I has good secondary employment conditions such as:

  • An end of year bonus of 8,33% of the gross yearly salary;
  • 42 days of vacation leave a year on full-time basis;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross yearly salary;
  • An excellent pension scheme;
  • Options for (additional) personal development;
  • Excellent facilities for parental leave.


SRON Utrecht will move to Leiden in 2021.

In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to female applicants.

No commercial propositions please.

Online screening may be part of the selection procedure.

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