Heat stress increase under climate change and adaptation potential in Belgium

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


August 30, 2022


Heat stress increase under climate change and adaptation potential in


(ref. BAP-2022-591)

Last modification : Sunday, July 31, 2022

The department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at KU Leuven is looking for a PhD student working in the regional climate studies group. You will work on the project entitled “COmbining Regional Downscaling EXpertise in Belgium II” (CORDEX.be II) in partnership between the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, ULiège and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research. You will closely collaborate with the two other PhD students recruited on this project and obtain supervision from all research partners. In addition, you will contribute to the Belgian climate scenarios, which are part of the Belgian national adaptation plan and contribute to the newly formed Centre for Climate Excellence. Experts will train you in Flemish High Performance Computing. Moreover, you will perform an urban observational campaign supported by experts.

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Increase in heat stress is one of the key challenges associated to climate change. With temperatures in Belgium now having exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, insight in how these extremes will evolve is paramount. Moreover, the need for adaptation measures like greenery and adapted building materials is evident. To study heat stress increase and adaptation potential, this project will adopt kilometer-scale regional climate modelling that enables to distinguish between urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Use will be made of a novel statistical-dynamical downscaling method, tailored to better represent heat stress events. The results will support stakeholders in assessing the impact of adaptation and city planning measures on local heat stress during extreme heat waves. The project contributes to the Belgian national adaptation plan which includes the production of Belgian climate scenarios as one of its key actions.


Required qualifications:

- To have a Master degree in Earth - or Environmental Science, Climatology or related field (geography, meteorology, physics, mathematics, informatics, bioscience engineering, civil engineering, etc.);

- To have experience in computational programming;

- To have demonstrated verbal and written communication skills in English;

- To have interest in working in a multidisciplinary team environment


Ideal start time is October 1st 2022, but later starting dates can be negotiated. The PhD position lasts for the duration of four years, and is carried out at KU Leuven. During this time, the candidate also takes up a limited amount (approx. 10% of the time) of teaching activities. The remuneration is generous and is in line with the standard KU Leuven rates. It consists of a net monthly salary of about 2000 Euro (in case of dependent children or spouse, the amount can be somewhat higher).


To apply, use the KU Leuven online application platform (applications by email are not considered) Please include: a) an academic CV and a PDF of your diplomas and transcript of course work and grades b) a statement of research interests and career goals, indicating why you are interested in this position c) a list of at least two references: names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Interviews take place Wednesday 7 September, at KU Leuven or online. Shortlisted candidates will be notified on 2 September.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.