PhD position in Microbial Ecology of the Greenland Ice Sheet

available from September 2024 in our group!

We are seeking a highly motivated student to investigate the potential of microbial communities of the Greenland Ice Sheet to oxidise methane (CH4) and so mitigate the impacts of the release of the potent greenhouse gas linked to the ice sheet melting. The PhD project is part of the new multidisciplinary project Geohazards and Charles University’s STARS PhD programme.

A methane release hotspot at the margin of the GrIS

The basal environments of ice sheets produce and store large reserves of CH4, which have the potential to raise atmospheric CH4 concentration and thus further climate warming, if released during periods of deglaciation. The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is retreating rapidly, losing mass at over 400 km3 per year. Recent field measurements have shown subglacial CH4 of microbial origin is released along the ice sheet margin; however, no estimate of the CH4 footprint of the entire GrIS currently exists. Moreover, microbiological analyses reveal a dominant presence of methylotrophic (CH4 oxidising) microorganisms in the GrIS meltwater streams.

The principal aim of the PhD project is to constrain the biological sinks of subglacial CH4 and their environmental controls using a combination of field measurements and laboratory experiments, and to provide quantitative output usable for biogeochemical modelling to upscale obtained field and experimental data to estimate CH4 cycling beneath and export from the GrIS and its significance for the global CH4 budget.

The PhD student will investigate the microbial communities in the Greenland Ice Sheet subglacial and proglacial ecosystems and their role in CH4 cycling using state-of-the-art molecular and experimental techniques (long-term incubation experiments, gas chromatography/laser spectroscopy, quantitative PCR, amplicon and metagenome sequencing, bioinformatics). They will take part in field work in Greenland, collect samples of subglacial sediment and glacial runoff, and design and conduct long-term experiments with the field samples. They will be based at the Department of Ecology, Charles University, Prague, and supervised by CryoEco’s Marek Stibal and Petra Klímová.

The successful applicant will have a background in microbial ecology and/or biogeochemistry. They must have obtained a degree equivalent to a M.Sc. in a relevant field by August 2024 (interested students who are at present in their final year of undergraduate studies are thus eligible). Good knowledge of written and spoken English is essential for candidates of any nationality (this language is fully sufficient for living in Prague and working at the department, and Czech candidates must be equally able to fluently communicate with their foreign colleagues). The position is available for four years, starting in September 2024, with a net monthly income of at least CZK 34,000 (€1400).

For further information please contact Dr Marek Stibal ( For details on the application process please see the STARS website. The application deadline is 13 March 2024.