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Release of mercury from thawing permafrost.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, February 29, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

In the recently published special IPCC report on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate it was concluded that permafrost temperatures have increased by 0.39 ± 0.15°C in zones with continuous permafrost during the last decade. Widespread accelerated permafrost thawing is predicted for this century and beyond. This threatens to remobilize large amounts of Hg currently ‘locked’ in Arctic permafrost soils to nearby lakes and estuaries and to the global biogeochemical cycle of Hg. Yet, future risk of Arctic Hg stocks is poorly understood. This project aims to unravel how a warmer climate can perturb the biogeochemical cycle of Hg and permafrost Hg stocks.


The ESR will study (i) to what extend Hg is mobilized to the atmosphere and downstream systems; (ii) if warmer climate and subsequent degradation of organic matter turns thawing permafrost soils into hotspots for Hg methylation, and (iii) what risk Hg in thawing permafrost pose for the local environment and for altering the global cycle of Hg. Field-work will be conducted at Abisko National Park in northern Sweden, Collaboration with ESRs 1, 3, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15.

Expected Results

Process based understanding of mobility and intercompartmental transformation processes of Hg stored in thawing permafrost (2 papers).

Planned secondment(s)

IJS/IOS (M. Horvat, A. Lapanje, D.Kocman), 2 months, testing of new biosensor in laboratory setting and to apply biosensors in experimental systems (ESR11) and collaborate with ESR9; CNRS (J. Sonke), 2 months, to get acquainted with experimental setup for determination of natural isotope abundance (collaboration with ESR1); CNR_IIA (N. Pirrone), 2-month, integration of the results into models (secondment together with ESR 12 and 15).

Eligibility Criteria

GMOS-Train is looking for a broad international representation of early stage researchers. The network clearly acknowledges its responsibility for the recruitment of the researchers,
their working and living conditions, as stated in the document “The European Charter for Researchers - Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers”. Gender equality and
minority rights will also be promoted in the selection process. There is no age limit.


The positions are open to all nationalities. However, your application has to comply with the European Commission’s Mobility Rules, meaning that at the time of recruitment you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the
country of the host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date (indicative start of the employment contract, Month Date 2020).
Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account (European Commission’s Guide for Applicants).

Early-stage Researcher (ESR)

In case you have already gained prior work experience in academia, you shall be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career at the
time of recruitment by the host organisation and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when you
obtained the degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. Part-time research experience will be counted pro-rata (European
Commission’s Guide for Applicants).

Relevant University Degree

Master’s degree or equivalent in Environmental and Health Science or related fields.

Selection Process

In case an individual researcher is interested in several advertised ESR projects, he/she may apply for a maximum of three specific ESR projects and list their order
of preference.

The selection committee will check applications against the following criteria:

- Scientific background and potential as indicated by candidate experience.
- Fit to a research project.
- Evidence of ability to undertake research.
- Evidence of working within groups or teams.
- Impact and benefit of the proposed training to the candidate’s research career.

Three candidates will be short-listed for each research project and invited to an interview (interviews by video link will be held if candidates are not able to travel).

Interviews will consist of two parts:
1) a short presentation by the candidate followed by questions and answers, and
2) competence-based interview.

How to apply

Please find details about the ESR project descriptions, application process and modalities at

All applications must be submitted by means of on-line application on the official GMOS-Train project website:

Deadline for application is February 29th 2020.

Funding Notes

Prestigious EU fellowship.

Highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions.

Excellent training programme covering health and environment science and state-of-the-art technologies.

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