Postdoc Living on Soft Soils: Subsidence & Society: Identifying Measures for Dealing with Land Subsidence

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Within the framework of the joint NWA-ORC-programme Living on Soft Soils: Subsidence & Society project of TU Delft, Wageningen University and Research, Deltares Research Institute, TNO, Wageningen Environmental Research and Utrecht University; TU Delft is seeking a motivated postdoc candidate to work on this collaborative research programme.

Project description

The threat of land subsidence, the knowledge gap on process-interplays causing it, and lacking mid- to long-term coping strategies, ask for an integrated research programme that addresses the issue of land subsidence in a holistic way. The overall aim of this programme is to develop an integrative approach to achieve feasible, legitimate and sustainable solutions for managing the negative societal effects of land subsidence. The programme connects fundamental research on subsidence processes to socio-economic impacts of subsidence and to governance and legal framework design.

The programme consists of 4 scientific work packages (in short dealing with Measuring and monitoring; Mechanisms; Impact analysis and Measures), the position is part of WP4 on measures.

WP4 on Measures identifies measures and policy instruments to temper subsidence rates and stimulates recovery mechanisms. Its goal is further to develop recommendations to strengthen governance capacities and legal frameworks to facilitate the measures’ implementation and to organize compensation. The post doc position is part of the work package (WP4.1) that focuses on identifying potential technical measures, while other work packages (WP4.2 and WP4.3) focus on governance and legal topics, to encourage a combined approach of mitigation, adaptation and recovery, and promoting a virtuous cycle of effective and legitimate subsidence management.

Job description

The postdoc will identify potential measures in areas prone to subsidence focuses on the technical implementation of these measures and determines their impact on the environment and society. The post doc researches the interaction of different measures in the urban area and/or on the impact of measures beneficial for the rural area. This will result in an overview of the most promising options, their potential and pitfalls from a technological, economic and ecological perspective as well as the development of model scenarios to optimize adaptive management under current and future climates.

The postdoc will focus on the identification of technical and economic measures to mitigate and adapt to subsidence as well as governance and legal strategies that facilitate their implementation. For rural areas mitigation and adaptation measures will have effect on both subsidence and peat oxidation and GHG-emissions, which are strongly related to groundwater levels. For urban areas measures to limit, repair or reduce damage to buildings and infrastructures are sought.

The empirical focus of the WP4.1 will be on case studies, and the spatial forecasts from models that were in part trained on these case studies. The methods that we intend to apply are inherently interdisciplinary in nature. The interaction and consequences of the measures implemented in the rural area for the urban area and vice versa will also be part of the study. Through stakeholder analysis, we will identify the key actors in relation to different (sets of) measures. With stakeholders, in workshops and site visits, we will explore promising options, for example in “serious games” zoomed in on the case

The postdoc will be supervised by a team consisting of Prof. Jan Rots (TUD) and Ir. Jan van den Akker (WEnR) and Dr. Mandy Korff (Deltares/TUD).

The postdoc position is available for 3 years based on a full time basis. It is possible that the position will be split between an urban and a rural specialist for part of the time (minimum 1 year full time equivalent).

Applicants are asked to explicitly mention if their interest and experience is related to rural or urban measures or a combination of both.

This project is funded by and contributes to the Dutch Research Agenda – Research along routes by consortia (NWA-ORC) aiming to stimulate research and innovation focused on the NWA routes, designed and implemented by interdisciplinary consortia spanning the entire knowledge chain, in which relevant social partners (Deltares Research Institute, TNO, NAM, Tauw BV, Sweco, Municipality of Gouda, Platform of Soft Soil Municipalities, Province of Utrecht, WDOD, HDSR, STOWA, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom relations, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and Wageningen Environmental research) are also represented.

  • background in geotechnical, physical geography or agricultural studies, with a clear multidisciplinary focus
  • with urban focus and/or rural focus
  • able to connect technical and policy topics
  • able to write clear and concrete overviews and practical and actionable recommendations.
  • able to work together with representatives of stakeholders and scientific and non-scientific partners; we therefore prefer a candidate who is able to understand and speak Dutch.
Conditions of employment

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering and Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Mandy Korff (, Ir. Jan van den Akker ( or Prof. Jan Rots (

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 15 november 2021 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.
20 - 40
fulltime, parttime
Type vacature:




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