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NEWS UPDATE: SAEON Chief Scientist receives the fourth A1 rating accolade

Chief Scientist Professor William Bond received his fourth A1 rating (signalling 15 years of world-class excellence) from the National Research Foundation (NRF) at the annual NRF Awards Function held in Durban on 27 August 2015. A-Ratings are aimed at researchers who are unequivocally acknowledged by their peers as leading international scholars in their respective fields for the high quality and impact of recent research outputs. William is pictured here with his award and on the stage with Dr Damonse (NRF CEO), Dr Whitelock (SAAO) and Ms Pandor (Minister of Science & Technology).

Prof William Bond

SAEON Chief Scientist standing tall.


NEWS UPDATE: SAEON installs automatic weather station in South Africa's most critical water catchment

On August 7, 2015: SAEON placed a high-altitude automatic weather station in South Africa’s most critical water catchment. The site is in the Maloti Drakensberg Transboundary World Heritage Site on an isolated 3000m amsl peak only accessible by helicopter or rock climbing. The station forms part of an expanding national instrument array designed to research the impact of climate change on water delivery by observing changing climate and weather patterns in the very regions that supply water to the rest of the country. Data to be streamed & made availableonline. Sponsor:

SAEON installs automatic weather station in South Africa


NEWS UPDATE: Visiting US Science Envoy for Ocean and advisor to President Obama endorses South African marine science

 South African marine science, exemplified by SAEON and SAIAB, is world-class in the opinion of the distinguished Jane Lubchenco, the US Science Envoy for the Ocean and advisor to Pres Obama who visited South Africa during July 2015. She met with SAEON marine scientists in Cape Town and with National Research Foundation officials in Pretoria. Jane was especially interested in Operation Phakisa and shared experiences with the oil and gas industry from a marine science perspective. She emphasised the importance of research on marine acidification resulting from the rise in atmospheric carbon.

Visiting US Science Envoy for Ocean and advisor to Pres Obama

NEWS UPDATE: Delegates attending the Offshore Oil & Gas Environmental Research Collaboration Project meeting 

More than 90 delegates are attending the Offshore Oil & Gas Environmental Research Collaboration Project - Kick-start meeting in Cape Town today (23 July 2015) and tomorrow (24 July 2015). SAEON is the implementing agency for this Operation Phakisa B3 project. The purpose is to develop the terms of reference for a structure to coordinate research activities offered by marine offshore oil & gas industry explorations within South African waters, including ocean energy and data management and sharing arrangements. Project funded by Department of Science & Technology and facilitated by Egagasini Nodefor offshore-marine systems.

Delegates attends the Offshore Oil & Gas Research Collaboration Project meeting


NEWS UPDATE: SAEON Marine scientists team meets the renowned US Oceans' Special Envoy

Today, 21 July 2015, the SAEON team of marine scientists was honoured to meet with the renowned US Oceans' Special Envoy Prof Jane Lubchenco, in Cape Town. She shared the US experience of their scientific engagement with oil and gas companies, valuable information for the Operation Phakisa B3 SAMREF project. SAEON showcased our coastal MPA work including the stereo BRUVs, the PEI work on climate change impacts, the offshore benthic trawl experiment, oceans modelling and the ASCA project. Prof Lubchenco advises US President Obama on science and environmental affairs.

SAEON Marine scientists team meet the renowned US Oceans' Special Envoy 

NEWS UPDATE: SAEON role model in the media

 An article entitled "monitoring invasive species from icy islands to arid lands" appeared on Quest: Science for South Africa magazine, volume 11(2) of 2015. The article outlines Tshililo Ramaswaela's career prospects and what attracted him to choose his field of specialisation - which is invasive species. Tshililo is a Field Technician at SAEON's Arid Lands Node in Kimberley. An invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species); and has a tendency to spread. Such species may cause damage to our ecosystems, human economy and/or human health. Click here to read the article.
 SAEON role model in the media

NEWS UPDATE: SAEON and international collaborators studying marine benthic diatoms

Marine benthic diatoms are bio-indicators to better understand the fundamental patterns and processes underpinning important ecosystem services and how these may be altered by global change. SAEON and international collaborators conducted two extensive field collections along the West Coast from Cape Point (South Africa) to Terrace Bay (Namibia); to test hypotheses on the taxonomy, biogeography and spread of diatoms from Southern Africa to the Northern Hemisphere (related to past climate change). Diatoms are single cell, photosynthetic microorganisms with a cell wall mineralised with silica.

Marine benthic diatoms

NEWS UPDATE: Watch the amazing video of an under-ice research dive in the Antarctic 

 Dr Ali Götz of SAEON Elwandle Node participated in the first quantitative under-ice krill diving trip in the Antarctic winter. A video has been released on the pioneering international collaborative research cruise which undertook under-ice diving from moving floes, floating on top of ~5,000 metres of water. The data collected will be used to predict the impact of climate change and reduced sea ice in the Southern Oceans on krill, and the consequences of a shift in species composition for the pelagic ecosystem. Krill, in biomass, is the most abundant animal on Earth and prey of predators such as birds, penguins, seals and whales. Watch the video here and click below to read the article.

Diving under ice

Diving under the ice: A first attempt at quantitative krill assessments in the Antarctic winter

Krill shape the structure of the Antarctic marine ecosystem due to their central position within the Southern Ocean food web as prey of a wide range of predators such as birds, penguins, seals and whales and as effective grazers on.


NEWS UPDATE: SAEON contracted to produce a Bio-Energy Atlas for South Africa

 Bio-energy is commonly seen as a viable alternative energy. To test this assumption, the Department of Science & Technology contracted SAEON to produce a Bio-Energy Atlas for South Africa. This week in Paris, the first 2-year phase will be reported on at the global conference"Our common future under climate change", preceding the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. The project shows that bio-energy is a complex prospect and not necessarily a sustainable solution due to low biomass and inadequate technology. The Department recently extended the project.

For more information, please click here to read the article on Bio-Energy Atlas for South Africa.

NEWS UPDATE: Multinational marine project investigating the oceans
Multinational marine project investigating the oceans

Multinational marine project investigating the oceans - EE PublishersThis article details how the Agulhas System Climate Array (ASCA), an international oceanographic project designed to provide long term observations of the Agulhas Current, achieves its objectives. It also provides details on the first mooring. Click here to read more.


NEWS UPDATE: Sharing views on the strategic challenges for environmental research organisations in Southern Africa
Sharing views on the strategic challenges for environmental research organisations in southern Africa
Sharing views on the strategic challenges for environmental research organisations in Southern Africa with the Okavango Research Institute ( of the University of Botswana. Prof Wellington Masamba, director of ORI, and Johan Pauw, MD of SAEON, met today to benchmark the experiences of their respective organisations. The topics were: organisational strategies & structure, research programmes, community engagement, financial sustainability, international collaborations, retention strategies, research infrastructure, ILTER ( and future directions

NEWS UPDATE: The SA Agulhas II marine science open daysThe SA Agulhas II marine science open days




Oceans Month celebrated by raising awareness of marine science. The SA Agulhas II Open Days provided 800 grade 8,9 and 10 learners from 14 schools the opportunity to tour the new polar research vessel on 12 June. Interaction with exhibitors and scientists helped them to explore marine science careers and to understand how science work at sea. SAEON Egagasini Node exhibited some instruments used to measure changes at sea, e.g. an Argo Float (physical changes) and Ski Monkey Camera (biological aspects). The Magic Planet video globe (in pictures) was used to demonstrate Earth system dynamics.


NEWS UPDATE: SAEON scientists studying marine biodiversity

Huffington Post tells all about SAEON scientists studying marine biodiversity with Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems. The research informs the declaration of Marine Protected Areas and provides scientific evidence for the management thereof.

Cameras for conservation

Cameras Deep Under the Ocean Surface Reveal Crucial SecretsThe big change? The rapid evolution of camera technology had lowered the price of cameras available to the average user. The advent of GoPros made high-quality filming a reality for surfers, divers and scientists. Click here to read more

NEWS UPDATE: Discussing environmental change research and data sharing in Southern Africa
Discussing environmental change research and data sharing in southern africa

Discussing environmental change research and data sharing in Southern Africa. The National Directors of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) visited SAEON's Managing Director today. In the picture (from left): Jonathan Diederiks (South Africa), Chipilica Barbosa (Angola), Casper Bonyongo (Botswana), Peter Erb (Namibia), Indie Dinala (Zambia) and Johan Pauw (SAEON). More about SASSCAL at

NEWS UPDATE: SAEON Arid Lands Node celebrating World Environment Day

SAEON Arid Lands Node celebrating world environment day 2015

World Environment Day 2015 at Kimberley, Northern Cape Province. Minister of Environmental Affairs: Edna Molewa, with the SAEON Arid Lands Node's Dr Joh Henschel listening to Omphile Khutsoane (left) elaborating on SAEON's education-outreach programme. Download copy of the SAEON Story that the minister holds in her hands here

NEWS UPDATE: Operation Phakisa - harnessing the ocean's economy

Operation phakisa-harnessing the oceans economy

Appointed by Department of Science & Technology to facilitate the SAMREF project to exploit research opportunities presented by offshore oil and gas explorations that will unlock data ecosystems, marine resources, and ocean related renewable energy. Operation Phakisa - developing the oceans economy. Click here for full story.

NEWS UPDATE: Science Education in progress in the Northern Cape

Science education in progress in the northern cape

Supporting science education in the Northern Cape: SAEON Arid Lands Node took 22 Grade 9 learners from Thabane, Emmang Mogo and Greenpoint Secondary Schools in Kimberley on a science camp held at Mokala National Park on Saturday 23 May 2015. The learners interacted with experts and gained hands-on learning about the importance of plants, the role of plant collections, vegetation and water quality monitoring. A project of the SAEON science education-outreach programme to grow a representative cohort of future scientists. For more on this story click here.

NEWS UPDATE: Assessing the effects of trawling

Hake is South Africa's most important fish resource and this month the industry received sustainability certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. The achievement was assisted by SAEON's benthic trawl experiment, a unique long-term project, investigating the recovery of marine biodiversity after trawling and a collaborative effort with the University of Cape Town, the South African National Biodiversity, the South African Deep Sea Trawl Industry Association and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

 Assessing the effects of trawling

  By Lara Atkinson and Charles von der Meden, SAEON Egagasini Node Descending into the darkness - it is pitch black beyond the camera lights and nobody knows what may suddenly appear on the screen before us. The excitement and anticipation here for more: Visuals from the deep. Also like this story on LinkedIn.

NEWS UPDATE: Impact of veld fires re-surveyed in the DrakensbergImpact of veld fires re-surveyed

A 34-year UKZN experiment studying the impact of veld fires on natural grassland in the Drakensberg was recently surveyed by the original team (Colin & Terry Everson), supported by SAEON. The Brotherton trial has 11 combinations of frequencies and season of burn. Grasslands deliver essential ecosystem services e.g. water supply, nutrient cycling, soil retention and greenhouse gas mitigation. The large picture shows the current botanical composition of plot 43 compared to what it was in 1981 (bottom right). Pictured (top right), left to right, are Thami Shezi, Paul Gordijn (glasses), Craig Morris and Colin.

NEWS UPDATE: Technical Training Course at Cathedral Peak

Cathedral peak technical training

Technical training in progress: SAEON is expanding its data collecting instruments to include water, carbon and energy for in situ monitoring of environmental processes and change. Field technicians and students are this week with Colin Everson and Michael Mengistu to share in their years of experience and field know-how. The Cathedral Peak monitoring site, where a number of instruments are already in place, is ideal for training. These pictures show the team in action: assembling, wiring, programming and collecting data.

NEWS UPDATE: Cosmic ray probe to aid Mapungubwe's threatened endemic forest


 Click here to read more about this new research project in the Mapungubwe World Heritage site.

NEWS UPDATE: 2015 Benthic Trawl Experiment research cruise

benthic trip

 Click here for a brief news release.

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