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Post-doctoral position on air pollution monitoring and atmospheric physics

ABG-100842 Emploi Junior
28/10/2021 CDD 13 Mois > 25 et < 35 K€ brut annuel
University of Littoral Opale Coast, Laboratory for Physico-Chemistry of the Atmosphere
Dunkerque - Les Hauts de France - France
Terre, univers, espace
  • Physique
Atmospheric dynamics; Air pollution; Remote sensing; Doppler (wind) lidar; Aerosol sensors
Enseignement et recherche


The Laboratory for Physico-Chemistry of the Atmosphere (LPCA, Dunkerque) is a research unit belonging to the research pole Environment, Marine and Littoral Spaces of the University of Littoral, Opal Coast. The LPCA conducts fundamental and applied research in Physics and Chemistry, aiming at better understanding the impact of human activities in the environmental field and in particular in the atmospheric field. The scientific project is structured in two themes, including theoretical approaches, experimental developments in the lab and field campaigns.

The post-doc will belong to the theme ACTE (“ACcompanying Envrionmental Transitions”) which specificity is to study the coupling between atmospheric dynamics and microphysical and chemical properties of pollution aerosols in the near-field (a few hundred to thousands meters from the sources) in an industrial or mixed environment (urban-industrial).

Inside this theme, the post-doc will mainly work in the group "Atmospheric Dynamics & Remote Sensing" specialized in the study of the influence of local meteorological phenomena on air pollution, particularly in coastal areas. This group relies on important experimental means (ultrasonic anemometers, aerosol lidar, wind radar, wind lidars, including a hemispheric scanning one…) but also possesses expertise in mesoscale weather modelling (MesoNH model from Météo France). This group regularly participates in field campaigns (Paris in 2014 and 2016, Mbour, Senegal in 2015, Hanoi, Vietnam and Annecy, France in 2019).

Part of the work will also involve collaborating with the “Atmospheric Aerosols” group, which focuses on the physical and chemical formation and evolution processes of the particles during their transport in the atmosphere. These study rely, among other methods, on aerosol sampling and physico-chemical characterization of the particles using the electronic microscope owned by the lab.

Poste et missions

This post-doc offer is part of the NETPLUME project: “remote sensing and network of in-situ sensors for the surveillance, the early warning and the monitoring of industrial particle plumes”. This project is co-funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the Hauts-de-France regional council. It is coordinated by the Laboratory for Physico-Chemistry of the Atmosphere (LPCA, University of Littoral and Opal Coast) and also involves the Laboratory of Aerology (LAERO, University of Toulouse & CNRS).

The project’s objective is to demonstrate an unprecedented ability to detect an anomaly in the particle emissions of an industrial site, in order to give an early warning, then help the risk-management operators to take back control of the incident by providing tools to locate the particle plume and its origin, and characterize its content.

The project’s methodology associates the scanning LIDAR technology to characterize the atmosphere and locate the plumes, with in-situ measurement and sampling devices, placed at different elevations above the ground. This approach will allow to alert the authorities and the public, but also to preserve samples for later analysis of the pollution composition. It makes NETPLUME a possible technical answer to the new regulation on industrial risk prevention and public information in case of an incident at a classified industrial facility, that was enforced by the French government in September 2020 after the heavy fire that occurred in the Lubrizol chemical facility in Rouen (France).

In the framework of the NETPLUME project, a preliminary test phase of the sensors and sampling device will take place in the lab during autumn and winter 2021, before a field deployment in Dunkerque city in Spring 2022, for several months. Dunkerque is a harbor city with ~174,000 inhabitants, an important industrial activity (steelwork, aluminum foundry, petro-chemistry, liquid natural gas terminal, nuclear power plant, agro-chemistry…) and bordered by a motorway with high truck traffic as it connects the Belgian and Dutch ports with the Channel Tunnel to UK. The local pollution is therefore a mix between residential, traffic and industrial emissions.

The post-doc’s job will include four tasks:

  • Develop an automated plume-recognition algorithm to locate the plumes on the horizontal scans of the Doppler lidar (Leosphere WLS100), in collaboration with lab colleagues that are experts in machine learning and pattern recognition. This part can be started even before field deployment, using data recorded during previous campaigns with the same instrument, and from the same place.
  • Participate in operating the fleet of in-situ sensors and sampling devices once it will be deployed in Dunkerque.
  • Process the data from the in-situ sensors and help to analyze chosen samples of the aerosols collected by the sampling devices, in collaboration with lab colleagues that are experts in electronic microscopy.  
  • Interpret the results in regards with the local meteorological observations (wind profiles from a Doppler lidar, turbulence parameters from a sonic anemometer…).

One expected outcome will be to locate a plume on the lidar images that overpasses an in-situ sampling device and characterize the change in aerosol composition following the passage of the plume.

Mobilité géographique :

Pas de déplacement

Prise de fonction :



The candidate should have a PhD in a domain that provides a good knowledge of meteorology and atmospheric physics. Experience with lidars would be a plus. Skills in data analysis and computer programming (Matlab or equivalent) are mandatory, as well as a good level in English.

French language is not necessary, except if the candidate wishes to apply for casual teaching in the University.

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