Personal tools
You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2009 September 2009 Workshop signals the START of an East African coastal modelling community

Workshop signals the START of an East African coastal modelling community

The scientists who attended the workshop. Back row from left: Magdel van Rooyen, Jeremy Westwood, Mary-Jane Kgatuke, Hemanaden Runghen, Collins Cheruiyot and Natalie Burls. Front row from left: Dr Juliet Hermes, Fialho Nehama, Stephen Ndegwa, Beenesh Anand Motah, Ceinwen Smith, Sinibaldo de Jesus Varela Canhanga, Terence Goldberg, Sarah Nicholson, Nicolette Chang and Obadias Jacinto Cossa. Erika Kean and MJ Gibberd were absent when the photo was taken.

Relaxing after a day’s hard work. From left: Beenesh Anand Motah, Hemanaden Runghen, Obadias Jacinto Cossa, Collins Cheruiyot, Sinibaldo de Jesus Varela Canhanga, Stephen Ndegwa and Fialho Nehama.

Dr Juliet Hermes is Manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node for marine-offshore systems and an honorary Research Associate at the University of Cape Town.

Poor coastal communities are frequently hard hit by environmental problems such as pollution, coastal erosion, droughts and flooding.

Many of these problems can be better understood if there is a clearer comprehension of the impacts of the large-scale environment, which in turn can lead to an improvement in monitoring and forecasting.

Dr Juliet Hermes, Manager of SAEON’s Egagasini Node for marine-offshore systems is involved in an international project aimed at training East African scientists to implement a high resolution coastal ocean model (ROMS). This project will form part of a global initiative of climate impact studies and ocean state estimation in coastal communities that border on the western Indian Ocean.

In July Dr Hermes, in collaboration with the START (Global Change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training) Secretariat, ran a landmark training workshop in Cape Town aimed at improving the capacity of East African scientists to perform ocean modelling.

The week-long workshop consisted of a series of intensive lectures and practical sessions which covered the oceanography of the South-west Indian Ocean, climate variability impacts on the region, the mathematics behind ocean modeling, shallow water models, the regional ocean model, ROMS, internet based research and potential projects, funding and collaborations.

During the workshop Dr Hermes, Ms Natalie Burls (UCT) and Dr Nicolette Chang (CSIR) trained qualified scientists from Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa in configuring and implementing a regional ocean model for the identified needs of sensitive East African coastal regions. The interaction with local scientists added to the workshop participants’ exposure to current research, certain problems currently experienced with ROMS, and likely solutions.

Equipping policy-makers with information

Since the trainees will return to their home countries with the capacity to use ROMS, it is anticipated that the project will be fully sustainable. Equipped with their newly acquired knowledge and skills, the scientists will begin detailed studies using the ocean model and continue the training of other staff and students in their countries of origin.

As part of the project, sustained efforts will be made to transfer the outcomes of the project to regional policy-makers and operational agencies with responsibility for the coastal oceans.

According to Dr Hermes research projects will be established in Eastern African countries using ocean modelling to investigate specific and environmental problems. It is already likely that three of the attendees will be doing PhDs and an MSc in this field. Research projects will involve the development of postgraduate students and further collaboration between the countries, which already became evident from discussions between the workshop participants.

“The research projects expected to evolve will provide a better understanding of climate impacts on the coasts, which will assist in improving current ocean monitoring systems, monitoring of coastal erosion and forecasting of extreme events,” Dr Hermes explains. There will also be direct and indirect impacts on poverty reduction, fisheries management and biodiversity, which will benefit economic growth and hence poverty alleviation.

“Although the success of the workshop will only be truly evident in time, the overall response was excellent,” says Dr Hermes. “We envisage that an East African coastal modeling community will come into existence, which will lead to an increase in the number of African people skilled in using ocean models.”

Document Actions