Position Title: Geomorphology Assistant
Park Unit: Yosemite National Park
Location: El Portal, California
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 20 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 10/07/2024
Flexible Start Date: YES

Weekly Stipend: $565.00
Relocation Allowance: $400.00

CURRENT NUMBER OF APPLICANTS: Under 75 (This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first.)

This position would focus on two major aspects of Yosemite geology: rockfalls and glaciers.

Yosemite National Park experiences frequent rockfalls and other slope movements (such as debris flows), with an event occurring about every 5 days on average. Because rockfalls pose considerable risk to visitors and employees, tracking rockfall activity, analyzing these data, and sharing the information with park managers and the public is an essential tool for mitigating rockfall risk. The primary means of rockfall documentation in Yosemite is with a rockfall database (Stock et al., 2013), which records rockfall and other slope movement events going back to 1857. The database includes information about timing, location, size, impacts, and associated environmental conditions. Yosemite recently converted the database from a spreadsheet to a geodatabase and interactive web map: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/03e5fb490eaf4bef92494923a99c4fa0/.

Working with Yosemite's Park Geologist and collaborators at the US Geological Survey, the project will update the rockfall geodatabase through 2024 and expanding the database through the addition of supporting data, photos, and videos. The project will analyze rockfall occurrence data to understand better spatial patterns of rockfall activity and temporal patterns of rockfall triggering related to environmental conditions. The SIP intern will also assist in the field with rockfall response and documentation.

Yosemite National Park retains two small glaciers and associated ice patches. These glaciers, the subject of study since 1872, have been shrinking rapidly due to anthropogenic climate change. The second focus of this project would compile existing data relating to glacier area change through time, create a geodatabase and web map of glacier change through time, and analyze the data to determine trends and estimate when the glaciers may disappear.

With frequent rockfalls and nearly 5 million annual visitors, Yosemite National Park is subjected to significant rockfall risk. Rockfall related road closures are common, there are occasional impacts to infrastructure, and even injuries and fatalities. The results of this work will inform the public about rockfall risks through an interactive web map and supporting publications and help park managers decide how to understand and mitigate risk to trails, roads, and other infrastructure. This work will also help to develop a protocol for more efficiently documenting and reporting rockfalls in Yosemite.

The work relating to glacier change will help to determine the impacts of anthropogenic climate change and provide information to educate the public about how climate change affects national parks.


The primary deliverables will be an updated rockfall geodatabase and web maps of rockfalls and glacier extent, both available to the public. Other deliverables include field notes, photos, GIS-based maps and shapefiles, data tables, figures, and short reports, all of which may be incorporated into longer reports or publications. Many prior interns in Yosemite have been co-authors on peer reviewed maps and publications.


The applicant must have completed at an undergraduate degree in the geosciences or earth sciences. Current or recent graduate students are strongly encouraged to apply. Previous geologic field work, experience with data collection and analysis, and writing experience are highly desirable, as is coursework in geomorphology, geology, glaciology, and/or remote sensing. The applicant should be able to work well independently both in the office and in the field, have basic map reading and GPS orientation skills, and must be comfortable hiking cross-country in a rugged mountain environment. Computer skills are essential, including working with ArcGIS and large data sets. Prior experience working with remote sensing data such as satellite and aerial imagery, lidar and/or Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry data is a plus.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (“Green Card holder”). Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required. The applicant must be available to participate for 20 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

Yosemite National Park is famous for its soaring cliffs, spectacular waterfalls, deep glacial valleys, and rugged wilderness. Yosemite Valley includes such geologic landmarks as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. The elevation of the park ranges from 2,127 ft. in the western foothills to 13,114 ft. at the crest of the range. Yosemite National Park is in the center of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which were formed during two phases of mountain building. The Yosemite landscape consists of primarily granitic rocks with sparse metamorphic roof pendants. Small glaciers and snowfields still cling to the highest peaks and feed clear rushing creeks and rivers. The 11,000 feet of altitudinal variation in the park supports a wide variety of life forms. During the dates this position is open, much of the high country above 8,000 feet is under snow, but Yosemite Valley and the Merced River Canyon are generally snow-free for much of the winter. Most fieldwork will take place in these areas. The job may involve strenuous physical activity (steep hiking for several hours at altitude), and exposure to heights and to weather extremes. The participant will receive training in backcountry safety, travel, and navigation. Mariposa, the nearest community, has a large grocery store, hospital, public library, etc. Smaller versions of these facilities are also located in Yosemite Valley. Fresno (~90 miles away) is the nearest large (university) town with a full range of amenities, including Fresno-Yosemite International Airport. Yosemite National Park has almost unlimited hiking, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing opportunities in the winter, and hosts a small ski resort at Badger Pass.


  • Applicant must have a valid driver's license to drive a government vehicle.
  • A personal vehicle is recommended for this position.

Park housing is available and will be provided at no cost to the participant. Park housing consists of a shared apartment (private room) in the town of El Portal, with kitchen and bathroom facilities and nearby laundry. The SIP intern will need to bring bedding for a single bed and kitchen and bathroom supplies. Wifi is available at the apartment but will need to be set up with the phone company provider or is available for free at the nearby El Portal Community Hall.

Geology, GIS, rockfalls, hazards, glaciers, climate change

This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications, or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first. Once you begin applying for a position, the application must be completed in one sitting. You cannot save and return later to complete it. Applicants can apply for up to five Scientists in Parks Intern positions per winter. You need to complete a separate application for each position in order to be considered. You should receive a confirmation email after successfully submitting an application. Sometimes institutional email filters/settings can redirect or block emails related to the application. We recommend watching spam, junk, and promotional email folders in case your service delivers messages there. Please visit How to Apply for additional resources and information about applying (i.e., learn what materials to have ready for applying, find a worksheet that previews application questions, etc.)