International Research Training Group ArcTrain

General information

ArcTrain Graduiertenkolleg

ArcTrain "Pro­cesses and im­pacts of cli­mate change in the North At­lantic Ocean and the Ca­na­dian Arc­tic" is a an In­ter­na­tional Re­search Train­ing Group fun­ded from 2013 un­til 2022 jointly through the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) un­der its Col­lab­or­at­ive Re­search and Train­ing Ex­per­i­ence Pro­gram (CRE­ATE) scheme.

Due to a com­plex set of feed­back pro­cesses col­lect­ively known as “po­lar amp­li­fic­a­tion”, the Arc­tic realm is ex­pec­ted to ex­per­i­ence a greater-than-av­er­age re­sponse to global cli­mate for­cing. At present, the re­gion is char­ac­ter­ized by an ac­cel­er­at­ing trend of cli­matic and en­vir­on­mental change. Rising tem­per­at­ures are as­so­ci­ated with loss of sea ice and melt­ing of con­tin­ental ice masses. The ex­cess melt­water is routed into the North At­lantic, where it may in­ter­fere with the form­a­tion of deep wa­ter and thus af­fect the global large-scale oceanic cir­cu­la­tion. The cas­cades of feed­back pro­cesses that con­nect the Arc­tic cryo­sphere, ocean and at­mo­sphere re­main in­com­pletely con­strained by ob­ser­va­tions and the­ory and are dif­fi­cult to sim­u­late in cli­mate mod­els. Still, state-of-the-art cli­mate mod­els of­ten fail to re­pro­duce ob­served in­stru­mental trends as well as past re­gional cli­mate re­sponse re­con­struc­ted from mar­ine sed­i­ment archives.

This is the start­ing point for the pro­posed In­ter­na­tional Re­search Train­ing Group aim­ing to edu­cate PhD stu­dents in an in­ter­dis­cip­lin­ary en­vir­on­ment that com­bines the strength in mar­ine geosciences and en­vir­on­mental phys­ics in Bre­men with com­ple­ment­ary skills and ex­pert­ise in sea-ice and ice-sheet mod­el­ing in a con­sor­tium of eight Ca­na­dian uni­versit­ies. The res­ult­ing sci­entific team with the PhD stu­dents in its centre aims to ad­vance the un­der­stand­ing of the vari­ab­il­ity of the Arc­tic Ocean and the cryo­sphere on time scales of dec­ades to mil­len­nia, to use these res­ults to bench­mark cur­rent trends and in­form cli­mate mod­els to ro­bustly as­sess the im­pact of pro­jec­ted fu­ture cli­mate changes on the Arc­tic.

The qual­i­fic­a­tion pro­gram for the PhD stu­dents in­cludes joint su­per­vi­sion, man­dat­ory re­search res­id­ences at part­ner in­sti­tu­tions, field courses, an­nual meet­ings and train­ing work­shops and a chal­len­ging struc­tured train­ing in ex­pert skills and trans­fer­rable skills. Its aim is to en­hance the ca­reer pro­spects and em­ploy­ab­il­ity of the gradu­ates in a chal­len­ging in­ter­na­tional job mar­ket across aca­demic and ap­plied sec­tors. The struc­tured doc­toral pro­gram in­cludes among other as­pects re­cip­rocal re­search res­id­ences in Canada and Ger­many, yearly train­ing work­shops, Arc­tic field course, Float­ing Uni­versity and Arc­tic stake­holder work­shop. ArcTrain is a col­lab­or­at­ive Pro­ject led by sci­ent­ists from MARUM, Fac­ulty of Geosciences and Fac­ulty of Phys­ics/​Elec­trical En­gin­eer­ing at the Uni­versity of Bre­men and col­leagues from the Al­fred We­gener In­sti­tute for Po­lar and Mar­ine Re­search in Bremer­haven. The ger­man part of the pro­ject is de­signed to con­tinue for nine years and will edu­cate three co­horts of twelve PhD stu­dents each. Our Ca­na­dian part­ners com­prise a con­sor­tium of eight uni­versit­ies led by the GEOTOP cluster at the Uni­versité du Québec à Mon­tréal and in­clud­ing Dal­housie Uni­versity, Mc­Gill Uni­versity, Me­morial Uni­versity of New­found­land, Uni­versity of Al­berta, Uni­versity of Brit­ish Columbia, Uni­versity of Cal­gary and Uni­versité du Québec à Rim­ouski.

The ArcTrain pro­ject team com­prises 27 PhD stu­dents, 12 of those in Ger­many and 15 in Canada, su­per­vised by 23 prin­cipal in­vest­ig­at­ors from 11 in­sti­tu­tions in both coun­tries plus ad­min­strat­ive staff.
To ob­tain more in­form­a­tion about the Ca­na­dian part of the ArcTrain pro­ject visit their web­site here.

Contact Person: Prof. Dr. M. Kucera (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0532 - Marine Geology", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography


Venue: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences
Bremen, Germany



The programme offers fully funded places to 12 PhD students every 3 years; participation as associated student in the programme is possible - it incurs no charges but is subject to a successful application.


For its funded places, ArcTrain accepts undergraduate students eligible for PhD studies at the University Bremen. Further details are available in the advertisement every three years. Associated PhD students must be already pursuing a PhD degree. 

Application Procedure:

All PhD students funded through ArcTrain are automatically members of ArcTrain. In addition, our programme is open to PhD students funded through other programmes, as long as their research is aligned with the aims of ArcTrain and provided that they and their supervisors agree to the requirements set below. To be admitted to ArcTrain as an Associated PhD student, you will need to submit an application as detailed below. The application will be reviewed by ArcTrain coordination team and the results will be communicated to the PhD student and their supervisor(s). Typically, ArcTrain Associated PhD students will be graduating from the University of Bremen, but participation by students from other universities is possible as well. ArcTrain Associated PhDs are expected to follow the ArcTrain curriculum, as far as the specific nature of their PhD projects allow. They will gain access to all ArcTrain activities, including annual training workshops, retreats and floating university. Pending availability, they will be eligible to apply for funding of their qualification programme

Who can apply? PhD students at the University of Bremen, AWI as well as other Universities, who have started their PhD and whose PhD topic is aligned with the research aims of ArcTrain, may apply for admission within the first 6 months of the beginning of their PhD studies.

When and how to apply? You can apply at any time, as long as you are applying within the first 6 months of your PhD. The application should include all the documents listed below. Please combine all documents into one single PDF, not exceeding 5MB, and send it to: arctrain(at)

How to structure the application? The application should include the following documents. Please make sure to follow the order as listed below:

  • Application form (see below) including an indication which parts of the ArcTrain curriculum you will be able to follow
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Motivation letter (please include an explanation why you would like to become a member of ArcTrain)
  • Description of your PhD project (not exceeding one page)
  • Letter from your supervisor confirming that
    • the supervisor supports your decision to join ArcTrain,
    • is willing to share your supervision with a thesis committee and
    • agrees that you are expected to follow the ArcTrain curriculum as detailed in the application form.

Applications are accepted only if submitted within the first 6 months of the PhD project. This 6 months period has been defined to give the PhD students enough time to follow the ArcTrain curriculum and to secure early involvement of a thesis committee. On acceptance both, the PhD student and the supervisor, become members of the respective assemblies of ArcTrain.

Grant Opportunities:

For fully funded places at the University of Bremen or AWI – see information on ArcTrain website provided every three years. For associated PhD students – see application documents provided on the ArcTrain website.


Academic level: PhD

Qualification: Graduate Certificate
Occupations (not validated):
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