#01 2024

Climate experts explore the integration of research outcomes into climate services

By Warren R. Joubert, Landscape Scientist for Meteorology and Atmospheric Composition, EFTEON

The 37th annual conference of the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences (SASAS) was held at the University of the Western Cape from 30 October to 3 November 2023. The gathering was organised by the Extreme Climate Events Research Alliance (ECERA), a newly formed working group in South Africa, and the Research Alliance for Climate and Health.

With “Science for climate services” as its theme, the primary objective of the meeting was to explore the integration of research outcomes into climate services, aiding in the management of climate variability and adaptation to climate change and extreme climate events.

The ‘Day Zero’ drought in Cape Town (left), the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal (centre) and the fires in Knysna (Photos: sapeople.com, Getty Images and Maroela Media)

The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme events in South Africa also came under scrutiny, such as the ‘Day Zero’ drought in Cape Town, the persistent drought and subsequent flooding in the Eastern Cape, the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, the Knysna and Table Mountain fires, and numerous heat waves.

Noteworthy highlights included the seasonal pattern of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and its influence on thunderstorms, forecasting of solar irradiance, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) teleconnections, various scenarios of changes in the westerly winds south of Africa, synoptic atmospheric circulation over Gauteng and air quality observations from some case studies. These highlighted the interesting and exciting work being conducted in the research community.

A panel discussion on impressions from the annual World Climate Research Programme Open Science Conference by South African attendees underscored the importance of source appropriation and attribution statements of climate impacts of extreme events. Very limited air quality-related science was presented.

The importance of the Global South as a community contributing to the climate discussion was noted. A concern that was highlighted is that, going forward, it will be key for South Africa’s atmospheric science community to keep pace with technological trends such as HPC capacity, machine learning developments and equation discovery.

A fuller report from this panel is available here.

The conference attracted leading climate experts who shared their research findings and provided updates on the scientific implications of climate variability, climate change and extreme weather events in the country (Photo: Courtesy of the Global Change Institute – WitsGCI)