PhD : Waves, current and coastal bathymetry from satellite optical images (M/F)



Brest, France
Posted on Monday, February 12, 2024

Job Description

Job title : PhD : Waves, current and coastal bathymetry from satellite optical images (M/F)

Reference: PV-2024-1407/1


Duration in months :36

Start date:

Deadline for applications:15/04/2024

General areas of responsibility

This thesis is proposed under joint supervision between IFREMER Brest (in-situ observations of waves and currents) and the LEGOS laboratory at the University of Toulouse III Paul Sabatier (in-situ observations of coastal bathymetry), with a particular interest from the French space agency CNES and the European Space Agency ESA (for the development of satellite sensors).

This thesis is part of several projects applied to sustainable development, coastal dynamics, and vulnerability (IRD/CNES/SHOM project "S2Shores") and lagoons (CNES project "Cfosat-Lagoon"), as well as the development of new satellite observation techniques (ESA project "Streamex").


Observing waves, current and coastal bathymetry is of paramount importance for better understanding and anticipating coastal risks in the context of urbanization and climate change. Satellite sensors, with their wide swath and global coverage, could become the primary source of observations for these parameters.

Currently, most satellites use images from active microwave radars (often with synthetic aperture: SAR), which have significant limitations inherent to microwave physics. On the other hand, optical imagery - both less costly and with very high spatial resolution - is expected to become widely available in the near future and could provide a huge amount of monitoring and historical data.

This doctoral thesis proposes to prepare an expert scientist for this upcoming opportunity. It will demonstrate the use of optical sensors to observe coastal waves, bathymetry and currents, using optical data specifically acquired by satellite and aircraft, comparisons with independent in-situ data, and numerical simulations of light reflection at the sea surface.

This thesis aims to characterize existing optical satellite missions, further develop techniques, and propose future missions to measure offshore waves and their transformation towards the coast. This will qualify their potential to provide new information not only on waves but also on coastal currents and bathymetry over vast regions of the world.

Key words

  • Coastal and nearshore oceanography,
  • Satellite optical imagery,
  • Waves, current and coastal bathymetry,
  • Coastal vulnerability and sustainable development.

Required Knowledge, skills, and characteristics

  • Student at Master 2 level or equivalent (engineering school) with a background in satellite Earth observation and geosciences,
  • advanced level in Python and/or Matlab,
  • strong motivation for the scientific topic and its societal impacts,
  • methodological challenge,
  • general assertiveness, and positive attitude.

Specific working conditions

Exercise modalities:

  • Geographical mobility between Brest and Toulouse during the doctoral program.
  • Participation in field experiments for wave / bathymetry / current measurements.
  • Collaboration with French and European space agencies.

PhD is a real opportunity to work on Ifremer's scientific and technological priority themes. It entitle the holder to a gross monthly salary of 2300 euros gross for a period of 3 years, which cannot be combined with other scholarships.

How to apply for this position

Your application file must include:

  • a curriculum vitae
  • a cover letter
  • a reference letter
  • an academic transcript (Bachelor + Master 1 and first semester Master 2)

Your application must be compiled into 2 PDF files, up to 3 MB for each file.

The deadline for applications is April 15th, 2024. Nevertheless, we strongly urge you to let us know as soon as possible of your intention to apply, by contacting the subject supervisor:

In parallel, please submit your application to the doctoral school : EDSML

Doctoral students' contracts will start as of October 1st, 2024, subject to the submission of administrative documents authorizing Ifremer to recruit the doctoral student (certificate of completion of the Master 2 or engineering degree + visa for foreign doctoral students outside the EU).

The Institute and the recruiting departement

A pioneer in ocean science, IFREMER’s cutting-edge research is grounded in sustainable development and open science. Our vision is to advance science, expertise and innovation to:

- Protect and restore the ocean

- Sustainably use marine resources to benefit society

- Create and share ocean data, information & knowledge.

With more than 1,500 personnel spread along the French coastline in more than 20 sites, the Institute explores the 3 great oceans: the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A leader in ocean science, IFREMER is managing the French Oceanographic Fleet and its dedicated scientists create ground-breaking technology to push the boundaries of ocean exploration and knowledge, from the abyss to the atmosphere-ocean interface.

Well-established in the international scientific community, our scientists, engineers and technicians are committed to advance knowledge about our planet’s last unexplored frontiers. They provide the science we need for informed decision-making and public policy and they transfer this knowledge and technology to businesses to fulfill public and private needs. Core to our mission is also to strengthen public awareness about the importance of understanding the ocean and its resources, and empowering future generations of leaders through education and outreach national campaigns.

Founded in 1984, IFREMER is a French public organization and its budget approximates 240 million euros. It is operating under the joint authority of the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the french Ministry of the Sea, the French Ministry for the Ecological and Solidary Transition, and the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

How to apply for this position

Deadline for applications: 15/04/2024

All applications are processed exclusively via our website. Interested candidates can apply by clicking the “Apply” button.