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LAST NAME, first name MASSONNET, François
Citizenship Belgian
Date of birth 22nd of March, 1986
Marital status Married, two children
Work address Place Louis Pasteur 3, bte L4.03.08
Tel. (work) +32 10 47 33 04


Short bio

I obtained my PhD in Sciences in 2014 from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) under the supervision of Profs. Thierry Fichefet and Hugues Goosse. During my PhD, I developed various metrics to evaluate sea ice models used in the framework of climate reconstructions, predictions and projections. I participated as a contributing author to the fifth assessment report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I also implemented ensemble data assimilation methods in large-scale sea ice models for state and parameter estimation. Immediately after my PhD thesis, I joined the Climate Prediction Group of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center Earth Sciences Department (BSC-ES) and worked under the guidance of Dr Virginie Guemas and Prof Francisco Doblas-Reyes. There, I explored various aspects of seasonal-to-decadal polar and extra-polar prediction, including attribution of extreme events, improved initialization techniques, novel aspects of forecast verification and linkages of the Arctic system with lower latitudes. In particular, I implemented an ensemble coupled sea ice data assimilation method in the General Circulation Model EC-Earth for initialization of near-term predictions in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. I have then been a F.R.S.-FNRS Postdoctoral Researcher at the UCLouvain. My work focused on the use and assessment of climate general circulation models for prediction at time scales from the month to the decade.


I am now a full-time permanent Research Associate with the F.R.S.-FNRS at UCLouvain, and explore, together with my group (5 PhD students and 2 post-doctoral researchers) various aspects of seasonal to decadal climate prediction in polar regions.

I am author or co-author of 70 publications from the peer-reviewed literature, have given more than 60 presentations in international conferences. I have been involved in several national and international research projects and programmes about climate prediction and predictability, including four FP7/H2020 EU projects. I have been awarded the EGU 2020 Arne Richter award for Outstanding Early Career Scientist and the Charles Lagrange award for Earth System Modelling from the Belgian Royal Academy of Sciences. I am frequently consulted by written and spoken media, both as a researcher to disseminate my works, but also as an expert on climate-change related issues. I have been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant in 2023 to work on rapid Arctic sea ice loss events.


  • 2018-now: F.R.S.-FNRS Research Associate at Université catholique de Louvain
  • 2017-2018: F.R.S.-FNRS Post-Doctoral Researcher at Université Catholique de Louvain
  • 2015-2016: Juan de la Cierva Formación post-doctoral research fellow at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC, Barcelona, Spain)
  • 2014-2015:  F.R.S.-FNRS Post-Doctoral Researcher at Université Catholique de Louvain , visiting the Institut Català de Ciències del Clima (Barcelona, Spain)
  • 2010 - 2014 :  F.R.S.-FNRS Research Fellow at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
  • 2009 - 2010 : Teaching and research assistant at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.
  • 2009: Master degree in Engineering, orientation Applied Mathematics at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium (La Plus Grande Distinction). Master thesis: Trafic autoroutier: analyse, gestion et stabilité au niveau microscopique. (supervisors: G. Bastin and G. Campion). Full text (french) or Short version (french).
  • 2007-2008: Exchange at the Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada)
  • 2004: High school degree at Collège Saint-Michel, Bruxelles.

Scientific involvements

  • Leader of the SIPN South project and member of the US Sea Ice Prediction Network.
  • Member of the leadership Sea Ice MIP panel of CMIP6 
  • Work package leader in the APPLICATE H2020 EU project, scientific involvement in the PRIMAVERA H2020 project
  • PI for UCL in the C3S_511 tender (Copernicus Climate Change services) on assessment of sea ice observations
  • Co-convener of the SCAR Open Science Conference session "Antarctica in a Global System" (August 2016)
  • Co-convener of the IUGG General Assembly session "Evaluation of the Cryosphere in CMIP5 models" (June 2015)
  • CliC fellow for the Year of Polar Prediction
  • Belgian National representative of the SOOS and SORP projects.
  • Member of the Southern Ocean Regional Panel (SORP) of the WCRP/CLIVAR/CLiC project.
  • Member of the Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN) Sea ice Outlook team. (See contributions here and here)
  • Contributing author to the IPCC AR5 (Chapter 12, Long-term projections)

Awards and recognition

  • ERC Starting grant from the EU Commission (1.5 M€)
  • EGU Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists (2020)
  • Admitted to Step 2 of ERC Starting Grant (not selected for final funding) (2019)
  • Mandat d'Impulsion Scientifique (290 k€) (2020)
  • UCLouvain Fonds Spéciaux de Recherche (37 k€, declined) (2019)
  • 247 k€ through the EU Copernicus service C3S_511 (2017)
  • Severo Ochoa travel Grant (1200 €) for scientific stay at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-ES) in November 2017
  • 2.2 million CPU hours on MareNostrum3 (BSC-ES Supercomputer) for project on sea ice data assimilation (2016)
  • ResClim Summer School Best Poster Award (2011)
  • WCRP Open Science Conference Best Poster Award (2011)
  • APECS third prize ($50) for presentation on data assimilation in the “New Perspectives in the Polar Sciences” conference (March 2015)
  • F.R.S.-FNRS Research Fellowship (4 years of full salary)
  • F.R.S.-FNRS Post-Doctoral Fellowship (3 years of full salary)
  • Juan de la Cierva Formación Postdoctoral Fellowship (2 years of full salary, declined 1)
  • Travel and housing grant for the 2011 International ResClim 15-day summer school in Longyearbyen, Norway
  • Travel grant for the 2014 International IGS Symposium in Hobart, Australia
  • Travel grant for the 2014 Arctic sea ice Prediction workshop in Boulder, USA
  • Travel grant for the 2015 workshop on High Latitude Dynamics in Rosendal, Norway.

Supervision experience

I have supervised or co-supervised 7 MSc theses, five PhD students: Jean Sterlin, Steve Delhaye, Cécile Osy, Jerome Sauer, Annelies Sticker (UCLouvain), three post-docs (Arun Rana, Xia Lin, Helena Barbieri).

Teaching experience 

  • 2019-2020 LGCIV2056: Marine Hydrodynamics

  • 2019-2022 LPHYS2163: Atmosphere and Ocean: Physics and Dynamics

  • 2019-2022 LPHYS2268: Forecast, prediction and projection in climate science

  • 2017-2018 Applied exercices in Physics (LPHY1212)

  • 2009-2014 Teaching Assistant in Physics, 1st year classes

  • LPHY2153: Introduction to Climate Modelling

  • LPHY1212: Exercices intégrés et data processing

  • PHY1113: Physique générale

  • FSAB 1202: Electromagnétisme et mécanique (partie mécanique)

  • FSAB 1101: Mathématiques 1

Language Skills

Mother tongue: French; fluent in English (EU level: C1) and Dutch (B2); notions in Spanish.


  • Tennis, soccer, cycling, running (3 marathons)
  • Piano, photography, cooking.

2019-2020       LGCIV2056: Marine Hydrodynamics

2019-2022       LPHYS2163: Atmosphere and Ocean: Physics and Dynamics

2019-2022       LPHYS2268: Forecast, prediction and projection in climate science

2017-2018       Applied exercices in Physics (LPHY1212)

2009-2014       Teaching Assistant in Physics, 1st year classes


Earth & Climate

Sciences and Technology


Place Louis Pasteur 3, mailbox L4.03.08,
1348, Louvain-la-Neuve