PhD Cleaning the Ganges: Impact of agriculture on hydrological functioning of the Hindon river in a changing climate

Wageningen University


September 3, 2022


Job description

Do you have a MSc in hydrological sciences, environmental sciences, physical geography with knowledge of hydrology, water resources management, or a closely related field? Are you interested in the hydrological function and modelling (subsurface, groundwater, surface water) of the Hindon subcatchment of the Ganges river (India). Then this could be the perfect PhD position for you!

This PhD position is part of the research project Changing the fate of the Hindon river by evaluating the impact of agriculture on the water balance - Developing a template for a cleaner Ganga river , financed by the Dutch Research Council NWO. The project is a collaboration between two Dutch universities (Utrecht University and Wageningen University and Research), Wageningen Environmental Research (WEnR), Deltares, and several Indian institutes. During thjs PhD project you will:

  • Understand and model how management of cropping systems (crop types, cropping cycles, crop water use, irrigation) affects groundwater recharge and baseflow in the current and future climate;
  • Co-develop a crop-hydrology-groundwater modelling framework (largely existing) in collaboration with WEnR, Deltares, UU and Indian partners;
  • Identify and assess sustainable agriculture management practices that will increase groundwater recharge, baseflow and surface water quality in the current and future climate.
  • The project aims at providing scientific understanding on the hydrological functioning of, and the impact of agricultural water management on, the Hindon subbasin of the Ganges river. The PhD candidate at Wageningen University will work on obtaining improved understanding of agricultural groundwater recharge, surface and subsurface water quantity and quality. Usage will be made of a coupled agricultural crop model, a catchment scale hydrological model and a groundwater flow model, to enable assessment of current and alternative crop usage as well as the role of climate change. The PhD at Utrecht University will work on integrated water systems analysis to understand the spatio- temporal relations between surface water and groundwater quantity and quality. The results from these subprojects will be integrated in a comprehensive modelling platform, enabling evaluation of the impact of future socio-economy and climate changes, that serves as the scientific basis for stakeholder discussions on sustainable future water management and agricultural practices.


  • a Master's degree in hydrological sciences, environmental sciences, physical geography with knowledge of hydrology, water resources management, or a closely related field (e.g. physics).
  • a strong affinity with numerical modelling, scientific programming with for example Python, Julia, Java, etc. as well as the ability to apply hydrological system analysis thinking.
  • capable of undertaking fieldwork in at times challenging circumstances.
  • strong communication skills, able to work in a multi-cultural team of scientists and able to demonstrate English language proficiency.
  • capable of undertaking fieldwork in at times challenging circumstances.
  • strong communication skills, able to work in a multi-cultural team of scientists
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page
  • ,

    Conditions of employment

    Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
  • In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.443,- per month rising to € 3.122,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

    There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

    You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the " Best University " in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

    Coming from abroad Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

    Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

    Equal opportunities Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.


    Employer Wageningen University & Research

    Wageningen University & Research The mission of Wageningen University and Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

    With its roughly 30 branches, 6.800 employees and 12.900 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen's unique approach. WUR has been named the best university of the Netherlands by students for the 17th time in a row.

    These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR

    We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


    Additional information

    For more information about this position, please contact Albrecht Weerts, special professor hydrologic predictability,

    For more information about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter,

    Do you want to apply? You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

    This vacancy will be listed up to and including August 21st 2022. We will schedule the first interviews soon afterwards.

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