Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


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PhD Position “Impact of Ice Drift on Nutrient and Trace Metal Distribution, Ocean Productivity and Carbon Export”
Bremerhaven, Germany
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
  • Graduate Position

PhD Position “Impact of Ice Drift on Nutrient and Trace Metal Distribution, Ocean Productivity and Carbon Export” (m/f/d)


The Transpolar Drift carries nutrients, trace metals, and carbon from the Siberian shelves to the central Arctic Ocean. Ice formed above shelf sediments has been found to be the main source of trace elements and nutrients arriving in the Central Arctic via the Transpolar Drift. The bioavailability of these trace metals is poorly understood, and it is unclear how sea-ice derived nutrients and trace metals contribute to ocean productivity and carbon sequestration. The roles of different ice-types are also poorly understood. Warming in the Arctic is predicted to increase ice-melt and freshwater inputs, further stratifying Arctic waters and affecting the upwelling of nutrients and trace metals from below the mixed layer. The Transpolar Drift and the release of nutrients from ice formed on Siberian shelves are thus even more important for primary productivity and carbon export. This PhD project’s overarching goal is to determine the impact of ice-associated Fe and nutrients on CO2 fixation by phytoplankton and its export to depth. Due to global warming and Arctic stratification, the importance of melting ice as a potential ‘iron-carrier’ may increase in the future. To understand how future changes in the climate will alter the influence of ice-associated iron sources, we will perform in-situ measurement of ice transport, phytoplankton productivity, and carbon export and connect this data to phytoplankton ice-incubation studies during the RV Polarstern cruise ArcWatch2, which is scheduled for August–October, 2024. The PhD student will also determine the bioavailability of ice associated trace metals; assess the impact of ice-associated nutrient input on phytoplankton productivity and aggregation; and identify the drivers of and main contributors to primary production and carbon export in the Central Arctic.


  • Prepare and pack for a research cruise.
  • Perform deployments of sediment traps during the cruise.
  • Plan and execute experiments with marine phytoplankton.
  • Publish the results in scientific journals.


  • Master’s or comparable degree in biology, marine biology, marine chemistry, environmental sciences, or natural sciences.
  • Ability to participate in a field expedition to the Central Arctic aboard the RV Polarstern
  • Proficient English, both written and spoken.

Further information

For further information please contact Dr. Scarlett Trimborn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Dr. Walter Geibert (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

This position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%).

The place of employment will be Bremerhaven. The expected starting date is October 15th, 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.

All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI's postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures.

The AWI is characterised by

  • our scientific success - excellent research
  • collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
  • opportunities to develop – on the job and towards other positions
  • an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world
  • flexible working hours
  • health promotion and company fitness with qualitrain
  • support services and a culture of reconciling work and family
  • occupational pension provision (VBL)
  • jobticket

Equal opportunity is an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of female employees and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply. Disabled applicants will be given preference among equally qualified candidates. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards for this commitment.

We look forward to your application!

Please submit your application, including (1) a letter of motivation, (2) a CV and copies of relevant certificates (master’s degree; training), (3) two letters of recommendation or the contact information of two references, by August 14th, 2023. Electronic applications only. Interviews will take place between 04 and 09 September 2023. Details about all open projects, the application requirements and an online application form are available


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