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Early Career Research Associate: Antarctic sea ice modeller


MARIS seeks an Early Career Research Associate to contribute to the international projects ‘Whales & Climate’ and ‘CRiceS’. The former project is a collaboration between South Africa, Australia and South America and is dedicated to the study of climate change impacts on humpback whale populations. The second project, ‘Climate relevant interactions and feedbacks: the key role of sea ice and snow in the polar and global climate system’, is funded by the EU H2020 and will contribute to a more precise understanding of the ocean-ice-snow-atmosphere system to deliver improved models that describe polar and global climate. 

MARIS is an interdisciplinary research grouping composed of different departments. The research fellow will be hosted at the Department of Oceanography and will collaborate closely with MARIS participants from the Faculty of Engineering. 



  • The candidate must have proven experience in sea ice and/or ocean dynamics, either at regional or global scales, and skills in data analysis and visualization. 
  • A publication record of peer-reviewed articles pertaining to numerical modelling is required. 
  • The candidate is expected to work independently as the lead researcher of a junior group consisting of a postdoctoral fellow and MSc/PhD students. She/he will help co-supervise these students and assist the PI, Prof. Marcello Vichi, in running the international projects. The workload will be distributed between the projects depending on the deliverables. 
  • Participation in international virtual and physical meetings will be required, as well as the preparation of intermediate and annual scientific reports. 
  • The incumbent is expected to publish articles as lead author and to contribute to joint publications as a member of the team. 
  • Knowledge of biogeochemical models is not a prerequisite but will be considered an advantage. 



  • The candidate will be requested to implement the ocean-sea ice-biogeochemistry modelling component of the projects for Southern Ocean simulations (based on the NEMO system). The model will be used to study the impact of different ice types on momentum/heat transfer and waves-ice interactions. The model results will be used to determine environmental conditions for the humpback whale feeding grounds around Antarctica over the past 40 years. 
  • Interaction with animal ecology is not part of this job description, but the applicant will be requested to collaborate with international experts and to assist in the analysis of other agent-based modelling undertaken by the project partners. 



This is a fixed-term contract appointment for a maximum of 2 (two) years and is contingent upon satisfactory performance and deliverables after the first year (see T1 contract at http://www.hr.uct.ac.za/hr/service/current_policy_contract). 

Gross salary range is from R550,000 to R650,000 per annum, depending on experience, with the addition of a relocation allowance for international applicants that includes a flight and 15 days’ accommodation in a single room or studio apartment (max R50,000). For non-South African applicants, the appointment will be subject to a work visa. 

Given the current COVID-19 global emergency, the commencement date for this appointment in South Africa remains open. The possibility of remote employment will be explored to allow for an earlier start to the collaboration. 



To apply, please e-mail the following documents in a single pdf file to Prof. Marcello Vichi at marcello.vichi@uct.ac.za with the subject “Sea-ice modeller” 

  • UCT Application Form (download at http://forms.uct.ac.za/hr201.doc
  • Cover letter describing research experience, interests, and collaborative experience 
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) including publications list 
  • Two reference letters. 

Please ensure the title and reference number are indicated in the subject line. 
An application which does not comply with the above requirements will be regarded as incomplete. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and may be required to undergo a competency test. 


Telephone: 021 650 1493 Website: www.hr.uct.ac.za 

Reference number: Closing date: Open until filled. 

Equity Sentence: 

UCT is a designated employer and is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress in achieving its equity targets in accordance with the Employment Equity Plan of the University and its Employment Equity goals and targets. Preference will be given to candidates from the under-represented designated groups. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at www.hr.uct.ac.za/hr/policies/employ_equity 

UCT reserves the right not to appoint.