Position Title: Geomorphology Assistant
Park Unit: Mount Rainier National Park
Location: Ashford, Washington
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 12 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 01/20/2025
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 will support ongoing efforts by the MORA Geology and Imminent Threats Program to analyze geomorphic processes across various physical and temporal scales. Under the supervision of the Park Geology staff, the Geology/Imminent Threats Program Intern will examine river and glacier responses to climate change for advancement of geologic hazard and resource monitoring at Mount Rainier National Park. Because of climate change, Mount Rainier’s glaciers are retreating, but they are not going quietly into the night. They are spawning catastrophic debris flows and glacier outburst floods (jökulhaups), and choking downstream rivers with excess sediment. The rivers are responding by aggrading (where the active river channel is up to 20 feet above adjacent floodplains and forests), flooding nearby roads, and suddenly shifting positions (avulsions), often killing acres of old growth forest. To improve the Park's capacity for adaptive management and move toward a condition of greater resilience, it is necessary for MORA to understand the glacier and river responses to climate change. All resources, from rivers and water supplies to roads and hiking trails, have been affected by climate trends. To study these issues the intern will pursue analysis efforts focused on data collected from field geomorphic mapping, elevation surveys, stream discharge surveys, and installation of remote sensing equipment and other specialized equipment. Summer field efforts collect landform boundaries and attributes that are digitized in the field and synced to a web-hosted server over WIFI. Data covers two geomorphic environments in MORA; gravel-bedded floodplains, and mapping features on the glacier itself. Elevation surveys are typically focused on river systems and infrastructure (usually roads), and are performed with a combination of survey grade GNSS and Total Station units. Discharge surveys are performed in a wide array of streams and rivers in the Park with both classic velocity-area surveys and sodium dilution gauging. Finally stream gaging stations and remote time-lapse cameras support ongoing monitoring needs, and produce large volumes of data seasonally. The intern data will review data for quality and assist in final archiving using ESRI ArcGIS software, Microsoft tools, Python, and open-source software suites. The intern will develop a plan early in their term to set goals and deadlines for the production of data series, analysis of data derivatives, assessment of trends, production of new maps, or comparisons of methods. The study plan developed between the intern and supervisor will depend on the current data needs of the MORA Geology Program, and the specialized experience of the intern. The intern may also take this process one step further by contributing directly to project reviews and action approvals currently underway in MORA. The MORA Geology and Imminent Threats Program operates from a cradle-to-grave mentality, providing significant opportunities to experience multiple levels of the federal natural resource management process.

The MORA Imminent Threats Program studies a wide array of evolving issues on behalf of Park Management. Efforts of the intern will directly support issues like major infrastructure review, road/bridge replacement, Park-wide data collection campaigns, research into long-term resilience and sustainability, understanding natural hazards and risks to human constructs, and modifying Park practices to move toward a truly adaptive and sustainable human occupation of the landscape. The intern will primarily achieve this by working with active research projects geared toward developing methods suitable for monitoring and assessing steep mountain rivers, thereby improving the foundational capacity of the Park to study and respond to the variability of its resources. Efforts by the intern will contribute to many projects within this framework and will carry a broad range of impacts, from improving the success of individual Park efforts to shaping the ongoing evolution of regional policies and practices. Projects in process by the Imminent Threats Program often contribute directly to restoration of infrastructure quality and access to public lands, and cumulative impacts of the program's actions are designed to improve the long-term resilience of NPS lands.


Information produced by the winter intern will be synthesized for use by the MORA Geology Imminent Threats Program, and may have an accompanying written product or presentation. Results will be used to advise the Park Management and Maintenance Divisions on strategies to protect park infrastructure, safely and economically, and with a minimum of environmental impacts. Where possible projects will focus on scientific analysis and method advancement to ensure long-term benefits from the intern's work. Common deliverables include photos, synthesized field notes, raw and finalized data sets, permitting and approval documentation for new projects, and site monitoring reports. Potential exists for the production of published reports and professional presentations, but these components are neither guaranteed nor required.


  • Background in earth sciences, geology, geomorphology, geophysics, natural resources; environmental science; hydrology; forest engineering; or related field;
  • Completed course work in calculus and physics strongly recommended. Further course work in geomorphology and hydrology is preferred;
  • Background in Python, environmental data analysis, and GIS is preferred;
  • Good communication skills;
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision;
  • Good physical condition with ability to hike over rough, mountain terrain and to lift up to 50 pounds on some projects;
  • Proficiency in field travel, both on and off trail, is a plus;
  • Experience working in and near rivers is desired;
  • Clothing suitable for prolonged periods of outdoor field work in both fair and adverse weather conditions; sturdy boots; gloves; sunglasses; sunscreen; waterproof outerwear; bring lunch and hydration system; medium-sized (30-50 L) day pack is desirable.

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 12 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

The Mount Rainier Imminent Threats Program covers both field and office activities. SIP participants will primarily focused on data analysis and planning support with their term, as well as outreach activities, and training for the position. The applicant can expect for the remainder of their time to range from 10-25% focused on field activities. Some portion of field work is anticipated to come up at random which requires prompt responses, like failed instruments in the field, damages to roadways, etc.. Field work is often in a backcountry setting, walking over rough and uneven surfaces, with prolonged exposure to sun, wind, rain, snow cold and other environmental hazards. The trails are steep or non-existent in many places throughout the Park. Field work is always be done in teams, unless specifically authorized. Winter recreation in the park includes backcountry skiing and mountaineering opportunities. Access is generally limited by operational constraints controlling access to the Nisqually Road. Field days could range from local walks to 10 mile trips in backcountry terrain. Surveying tools, scientific instruments, and field safety equipment will be provided by the park geology program. Essential field attire includes sturdy winter hiking boots (insulated can help), long pants made of synthetic material, UV resistant long-sleeve shirt with a hood (sun hoodie), warm base layers (top and bottom), 30-Litre backpack, hat, sunglasses, gore-tex or other rain/snow gear (top and bottom), and wool or other low water-retention hiking socks. Training related to specialized forms of backcountry travel will be provided, the intern is strongly encouraged to ask about and acquire necessary field or recreational equipment before they begin their term. Most time is focused on indoor tasks in the winter months due to the above access constraints, and dedicated office space is available in Longmire as well.

A personal vehicle is not required but is highly recommended due to the remote location of this position. Access to grocery stores and other amenities involves a minimum travel time of 40 minutes by car, there is no access to public transportation, and few residents in Longmire during the winter. A balance of in-person time and telework is encouraged if possible for the intern to account for the remoteness of Longmire in winter.


  • 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 room with shared kitchen, bath, and laundry facilities. Cookware and dishes are not supplied. Housing may be located either within the park at Longmire, or nine miles outside the park at Tahoma Woods. Cell phone reception may be poor or nonexistent in most areas of the park. Pets are not allowed in park housing units without special exemption. Century Link wireless internet can be installed within a seasonal housing unit at the tenant’s personal expense.

This position is eligible for telework status, but it is strongly recommended the applicant spends a portion of their term in the Park. When spending time living in Mount Rainier it is highly recommended the applicant bring a personal vehicle for the duration of their stay. Housing areas are remote with no public transport available in the area. Having access to a personal vehicle makes a significant difference in being able to buy supplies or seek out local activities in their off time.

Geology, Geologic Hazards, Hydrology, Flooding, Glaciers, Infrastructure, Conservation, Landscape Management, Natural Resource Management, Human Safety, Risk Mitigation, Climate Change Adaptation, Adaptive Management, Infrastructure Resilience, Long-Term Planning, Environmental Data Analysis

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.)