Postdoctoral position OT-10928

Development of a data assimilation method for global hydrological projections into a catchment-scale distributed model

69100 Villeurbanne

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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France. The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

You will be welcomed in the RiverLy Research Unit. RiverLy combines skills in ecology, microbiology, ecotoxicology, environmental chemistry, hydrology and hydraulics. Our researches cover multiple scales from microhabitats to large catchments and global scales. Interdisciplinary research combine natural and anthropogenic risks for better managing and restore stream networks.


River networks are among Earth’s most threatened hot-spots of biodiversity and are essential for human well-being. However, climate change and increased human water use are causing more rivers and streams to dry, but these drying river networks (DRNs) have received little attention. DRYvER is a Horizon 2020 project, which aims to collect, analyse and model data from nine DRNs in Europe and South America to create a novel global meta-system approach that incorporates hydrology, socio-economics, ecology and biogeochemistry in order to craft strategies, tools, guidelines, and recommendations for adaptive management of river networks in the EU and worldwide.


The ISIMIP (Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project) international experiments deliver an ensemble of global hydrological simulations (at a 0,5°/55km spatial resolution) under climate changewith global hydrological models like WaterGAP (Müller-Schmied et al., 2020), developed by the DRYvER partner Goethe University in Francfort (Germany). The aim is here to transfer information from these global-scale and coarse-resolution hydrological projections towards the high-resolution hydrographic network in a small catchment. Within the DRYvER project, catchment-scale hydrological modelling is dealt with jointly by INRAE RiverLy and Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena (Germany), with the J2000 distributed model (Krause et al., 2006).


The objective of the postdoctoral position will be to link these two hydrological modelling scales, and produce an ensemble of streamflow simulations over the whole river network of each catchment case study. An approach through data assimilation with a particle filter will be developed to integrate J2000 simulations at the catchment outlet and streamflow simulated by a global hydrological model. Defining and taking into account uncertainty from the two models will be central to build an optimal data assimilation scheme, and will benefit from the expertise from modellers at the two different scales involved in the DRYvER project. The method will be built and tested over a historical period, then applied to future projections derived from global climate modelling under various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

You will be in charge of building the data assimilation framework. Tasks will be as followed:


  • Defining and quantifying uncertainty associated with J2000 output streamflow (model error and background error) and uncertainty from the global model (“observational” error)
  • Producing ensemble daily streamflow  simulations at the catchment scale for all DRYvER catchment case studies over a historical period
  • Producing ensemble daily streamflow simulation at the catchment scale from future global hydrological projections under various greenhouse gas emissions scenarios
  • Disseminating results within the project (meetings and workshops) and to the broader research community (conferences, scientific articles)

Training and skills


- Recommended training: PhD in mathematics applied to the environment or PhD in hydrology

- Knowledge required: data assimilation (ensemble or variational), hydroclimatologie, programming (R, Python. Oral and written scientific English

- Appreciated experience: development and building of data assimilation methods in environmental/hydrological models

- Skills sought: High self-organisation. Excellent ability to communicate in French and English. Good ability to work in a multidisciplinary team.

- A marked sensitivity to environmental issues will be appreciated.

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from (depending on the type of contract and its duration):

- up to 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: trainingcareer advise;
social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

How to apply

I send my CV and my motivation letter

Offer reference

  • Contract: Postdoctoral position
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Beginning: 01/03/2021
  • Remuneration: between 2300 and 2900 euros (gross)
  • Reference: OT-10928
  • Dealine: 30/04/2021
Centre Lyon-Grenoble Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

UR1469 RiverLy 69100 Villeurbanne