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Identification of snowfall processes from ground-based in situ observations (m/f/d)

Founded in 1409, Leipzig University is one of Germany’s largest universities and a leader in research and medical training. With around 30,000 students and more than 5000 members of staff across 14 faculties, it is at the heart of the vibrant and outward-looking city of Leipzig. Leipzig University offers an innovative and international working environment as well as an exciting range of career opportunities in research, teaching, knowledge and technology transfer, infrastructure and administration.
The Leipzig Institute for Meteorology (LIM) at the Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences seeks to fill the above position at the earliest opportunity

Position and project description

Precipitation is an important but poorly understood component of our climate system. The exact pathways through which ice crystals, liquid water, cloud dynamics, and aerosol particles interact during precipitation formation are not well understood. During snowfall formation, vapor depositional growth leads to myriad crystal shapes depending on temperature, humidity, and their turbulent fluctuations. Aggregation combines individual crystals into complex snowflakes. Riming describes the freezing of small droplets to ice particles so that they rapidly gain mass. In other words, the shape of snow particles is a fingerprint of the dominant processes during snowfall formation. In this project, we propose to use these fingerprints to quantify how the different snowfall formation processes contribute to total precipitation
in terms of mass or frequency of occurrence.
The PhD student will conduct independent research as part of the drOPS (clouD and pRecipitation Observations for Process Studies) group at LIM for the Evaluating Microphysical Pathways Of Midlatitude Snow Formation (EMPOS) project. The candidate will develop and apply machine learning data products for the Video In Situ Snowfall Sensor (VISSS) to quantify riming and aggregation from in situ observations. The VISSS measurement uncertainties will be quantified. The required data set will be collected during a field campaign at Hyytiälä, Finland. Together with a PhD student of the collaboration partner C. Hoose at KIT, the observations will be compared with the ICON (Icosahedral Nonhydrostatic) model using the advanced P3 (Predicted Particle Properties) microphysics scheme, which has a novel approach to the treatment of rimed particles. The goal is to evaluate and improve the snowfall simulation in ICON. Results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences.

Terms of employment

The funded Ph.D. position (75% of the TV-L E13 pay scale of the German public sector) is awarded for 3 years, is open immediately, and should be filled by summer 2023 at the latest. We offer a productive and interdisciplinary working environment including comprehensive supervision and integration into the thriving Leipzig Graduate School on Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation.

Qualification requirements

Applicants should have a Master's degree in meteorology, physics, or a related field. We expect a strong interest in atmospheric science, especially cloud physics, in situ observations, and machine learning. Previous experience in these areas would be an advantage for the position. Experience with high-level scientific programming for data analysis, such as Python, is desirable. Candidates must have excellent communication skills in written and spoken English.


Interested candidates should send their applications, including a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, BSc and MSc transcripts or records, other qualifications, and contact information of two referees, as a single PDF file to Maximilian Maahn by March 22, 2023.
Please note that it is not possible to guarantee confidentiality and prevent unauthorized access by third parties when communicating via unencrypted e-mail.


Leipzig University aims to increase the proportion of women in positions of responsibility and therefore expressly invites qualified women to apply. Severely disabled persons – or persons deemed legally equal to them under Book IX of the German Social Code – are encouraged to apply and will be given preference in the
case of equal suitability.
Please contact the project leader Maximilian Maahn for questions regarding to the position.

Privacy information

If you choose to apply and send us your documents, you do so voluntarily. Any personal data contained within your application documents, or obtained during an interview, will be processed by Leipzig University – as the advertiser of the position – exclusively for the purposes of the selection process for the position advertised. It
will not be passed on to third parties without your consent in the individual case. The legal basis for such data processing is Sect. 11(1) of the Saxon Data Protection Implementation Act (SächsDSDG) in conjunction with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The controller for the application process within the
meaning of the GDPR is the addressee of the application, specified in the advertisement.
Your personal data will be stored for six months after the end of the recruitment process and then erased or destroyed in accordance with data protection regulations. You may refuse or withdraw your consent with effect for the future without giving reasons. In these cases, Leipzig University will not or no longer be able to process
and consider your application. Under the GDPR, subject to the relevant statutory requirements you have the following rights vis-à-vis the addressee of the application with regard to your personal data: right of access (Art. 15 GDPR); right to rectification of inaccurate personal data (Art. 16 GDPR); right to erasure (Art. 17 GDPR); right to restriction of processing (Art. 18 GDPR); and right to object to processing (Art. 21 GDPR).
If you have any questions, please contact the Data Protection Officer at Leipzig University (office:
Augustusplatz 10, 04109 Leipzig). You also have the right to lodge a complaint with the Saxon Commissioner
for Data Protection.

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Frequently asked questions

Students/Guest auditors

On this page you will find the answers to frequently asked questions and the explanation of important terms from the application to the completion of your studies.

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  • As a guest auditor, you can attend courses at our institute without obtaining a degree.
  • Auditing as a guest is available for all who wish to continue studying individually before, during or after their professional career.
  • Audtiting as a guest is also possible without a university entrance qualification.
  • Find out more on the university's web pages about how you can become a guest student at our university and which offers are available to you.

Weather and climate

Leipzig Instrumentation

The measuring equipment is located on the premises of the Leipzig Institute for Meteorology (51°33'33.N, 12°38'88.E) on a meadow behind the institute building and on the institute's tower.

Collm Instrumentation

The Collm Observatory is located at the northern base of Collm in the forest. The measuring equipment is located on the tower of the institute building (51°30'44.N, 13°00'27.E) above the tree line.

The weather data is free for use.

The weather data is gatherd exclusively for educational purposes and are not an alternative or substitute for the official data of the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Weather Service). Furthermore, no guarantee can be given for the accuracy and completeness of the data.

The mesosphere/lower thermosphere (MLT) is one of the most scientifically challenging regions of the atmosphere. The MLT is the region where wave-wave and wave-mean flow interactions lead to a mean circulation regime that is extremely far from radiative equilibrium. Although radar measurements of MLT winds have been possible for more than half a century, our current knowledge on MLT dynamics is still far from complete, mostly due to incomplete coverage of the global wind field by ground-based remote sensing system.

As a contribution to our knowledge of MLT dynamics a SKiYMET meteor radar has been continuously operated at Collm Observatory (51.3°N, 13°E) since August 2004. The measurements deliver hourly wind information for the height range between 80-100 km and daily mean temperatures near the mesopause. Together with the earlier LF wind measurements peformed at Collm from 1959 - 2008 a unique MLT circulation parameter dataset is available.

All data are to be considered preliminary. They are only for information purposes and must be validated by the responsible authority before us!

Data of the SKiyMet meteor radar

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