PostDoc - Terrestrial Hydrology and Earth Sciences Applications - Water Resources
University of Colorado Boulder

Boulder, Colorado

Posted in Education and Training

Job Info

PostDoc - Terrestrial Hydrology and Earth Sciences Applications - Water Resources

Requisition Number: 45008
Location: Boulder Colorado
Employment Type: Research Faculty
Schedule: Full Time
Posting Close Date:
Date Posted:

Job Summary

The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado-Boulder is seeking a highly qualified postdoctoral associate to assess, improve, and use in research and along with applications partners, remotely sensed snow cover and snow albedo from physically based spectral mixture models. The candidate will work with the Snow Hydrology Group at INSTAAR and the Snow Today team at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) that are comprised of scientists, programmers, operations specialists, and communications specialists.

The successful candidate can select from a range of research and applications projects focusing on the retrieval of snow surface properties and their use in applications at regional and global scales supported by NASA Terrestrial Hydrology and NASA Earth Sciences Applications: Water Resources. The post-doctoral fellow will work collaboratively with investigators and programmers from INSTAAR and NSIDC, and with stakeholder groups that require snow remote sensing data to serve diverse needs of national and international water resource managers who produce streamflow and flood forecasts, inform agriculture water supply and hydropower production decisions, and conduct water futures planning in snowmelt dominated regions.

Research questions can be aligned with the interests of the successful candidate but should address existing project goals to assess the accuracy of snow cover properties from MODIS, VIIRS, Landsat 8/9, and Sentinel 2a/2b, improve and use the snow cover properties for snow hydrology, and to work with stake holders and programmers on implementing processes to use the remote sensing data in near real time. Collaborative agreements with four primary partners including the Colorado River Forecast Center, the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center, the Global Water Futures Core Modelling and Forecasting team, and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research as well as five additional institutional data users provides domestic and international collaboration across a global range of snow climates. Continued work will include exploring fusion efforts between the daily coarse resolution, less frequent but higher spatial resolution remote sensing observations, and models to strengthen weaknesses in the observational data. Data fusion work will contribute towards efforts with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CA-DFW) on understanding the current and future habitats of Sierra Bighorn sheep focused on repopulation efforts.

This is a one-year, full-time with the possibility for extension for an additional year. Salary will be commensurate with experience at the level of a Professional Research Associate. The preferred start date is April 1, 2023.
The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to building a culturally diverse community of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to contributing to an inclusive campus environment. We are an Equal Opportunity employer, including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Who We Are

As the University’s oldest institute, lNSTAAR (Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research) has a long history of addressing pressing environmental issues. Our traditional focus has been on polar and alpine regions, where effects of global change are especially pronounced. In recent decades, our research has broadened to include environmental challenges that span local, regional, and global scales. Research topics vary widely and include Quaternary and modern environments, human and ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, landscape evolution, hydrology, oceanography, and climate.

INSTAAR’s research activities integrate field studies, state-of-the-art laboratory experiments, sample analysis, and numerical and laboratory modeling. Our field sites are located across all seven continents and the world’s oceans. Our expertise across disciplines helps us generate influential science that can inform public and policy decisions and move us toward a more sustainable society. INSTAAR’s national and international research leadership is augmented by exceptional strength in graduate education and bringing undergraduates into the research process.

What Your Key Responsibilities Will Be

The person in this position will conduct research on the topic of snow cover and snow albedo initially focused on regions with in-situ data such as the Western United States, but expanding to North America, Greenland, High Mountain Asia and eventually culminating with a global focus. Data fusion will be developed on smaller regions like the Sierra Nevada of California and the Colorado River basin with the goal of eventually expanding coverage. The position is located within the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) on CU Boulder’s East Campus in Boulder, CO, USA or optionally, hybrid work contigent on approval from the director of INSTAAR.

In collaboration with the principal investigator at INSTAAR, the post-doctoral fellow will define the specific research tasks to be conducted as part of the project. They will: solve problems that may arise while completing the research plan; work independently to solve these problems; establish schedules to meet deadlines as needed by project supervisors; and obtain guidance when they cannot make a decision or solve a problem independently.

Primary responsibilities depending on the successful candidate's project selection will include:

  • Create and refine spatial maps of snow cover fraction, grain size, the impact of dust and soot on snow albedo, and snow radiative forcing from Landsat 8/9 OLI and Sentinel 2a/2b MSI and compare to in-situ observations.
  • Compare spatial maps of snow cover fraction, grain size, the impact of dust and soot on snow albedo, and snow radiative forcing from MODIS Terra and VIIRS Suomi with higher spatial resolution imagery anchored with in-situ observations.
  • Fuse observations from diverse optical datasets using machine learning to produce a dataset that incorporates the strength of each of the datasets.
  • Solicit feedback from stakeholders regarding the various products and work with the principal investigator and software developer to improve data quality.
  • Integrate modeling frameworks for improving snow in forests.
  • Analyze historical records of snow surface properties to determine climatology and trends regionally and/or globally.
  • Apply snow surface properties to energy balance and/or other models to understand the spatial distribution of snow water equivalent and snow and ice melt.

What You Should Know

  • The candidate should be willing and ability to communicate effectively with programmers, data users, communications experts, and scientists with expertise outside of your discipline.
  • The candidate may have the option of performing field work in this job position.
  • All University of Colorado Boulder employees are required to comply with the campus COVID-19 vaccine requirement. New employees must provide proof of vaccination or receive a medical or religious exemption within 30 days of employment.

What We Can Offer

$60,000.00 -$70,000.00.


The University of Colorado offers excellent benefits, including medical, dental, retirement, paid time off, tuition benefit and ECO Pass. The University of Colorado Boulder is one of the largest employers in Boulder County and offers an inspiring higher education environment. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder.

Be Statements

Be ambitious. Be groundbreaking. Be Boulder.

What We Require

  • A Ph.D. degree in geography, environmental science, hydrology, geophysics, or related fields.
  • Expertise in remote sensing, snow/ice, and climate change
  • Experience communicating research results through public or stakeholder engagement, publication in peer-reviewed journals, and presentations at scientific meetings.
  • Experience with or willingness to learn data analysis software such as MATLAB and Python.

What You Will Need

  • Be able to work effectively with minimal supervision.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbally and written, including listening, and responding to questions effectively.
  • Proficiency with basic computer software including the Microsoft Office suite and online collaboration tools such as Zoom, Slack, or Google Drive.
  • Must have the ability to pay close attention to details and keep clear and accurate records.
  • Willingness to learn new methods or skills to support project goals.
  • Willingness to collaborate and share results with a multidisciplinary team.
  • Ability to lead and follow guidance, including responding constructively to others’ ideas and suggestions and a willingness to develop creative solutions to challenges that arise.

Special Instructions

To apply, please submit the following materials:
  1. Resume or CV.
  2. Cover letter addressed to the Search Committee briefly describing your qualifications, professional goals, and specific interest in this position.
  3. List of contact information for three references who may be contacted on your behalf.
  4. Optional: PDF Sample of Work.
  5. Optional: Portfolio URL/Link.

If you are selected as the finalist, your degree will be verified by the CU Boulder Campus Human Resources department using an approved online vendor. If your degree was obtained outside of the United States, please submit a translated version as an optional attachment.

Review of applications will begin February 1 and will continue until the position is filled. Any questions can be directed to the search committee members.

Note: Application materials will not be accepted via email. For consideration, applications must be submitted through CU Boulder Jobs.

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