Close this search box.
World-class environmental research platforms for a sustainable society


South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) is a long-term environmental observation and research facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF). SAEON’s three focus areas are environmental observation, data management and education outreach. The Department of Science and Innovation provides core funding for these activities. 

SAEON has a distributed network of seven nodes, two research infrastructures and a national office. The research network covers the major terrestrial and marine ecosystems in South  Africa and supports well over 100 researchers and students a year.

Reflecting on 21 years of NRF-SAEON

Latest Seminar

Title: Carbon and water relations over three growing seasons in an African arid Savanna and grassy shrubland.

Presenter: Dr Amukelani Maluleke (EFTEON)

Anthropogenic climate change and increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide could alter ecosystem and biogeochemical processes in African drylands, potentially affecting land-atmosphere feedbacks. We used a paired-site Eddy Covariance-based approach to compare carbon and water exchange in Savanna and Nama-Karoo biomes, revealing differences in phase and magnitude in carbon fluxes across multiple scales. A Total of -160 g C m -2, was recorded at the Nama Karoo Site, versus a total of -567 g C m-2  over a period of 33 months, with mean annual NEE of -189g C m-2 y-1 and -53 g C m-2 y-1 for the Savanna and Nama Karoo sites, respectively. More carbon uptake was observed during periods of intermediate soil moisture at both sites, with soil moisture also observed to modulate the relationship between nighttime NEE and soil temperature. The rainfall required to trigger ecosystems (and initiate the start of the growing season) into carbon sinks varied across periods, with the Savanna site requiring between 131 mm and 172 mm, and the Nama-Karoo site requiring between 98 mm and 165 mm. A fire event in the second period nearly halved carbon uptake compared to the first period at the Savanna site, also delaying the start of the growing season even with higher rainfall received. The Nama-Karoo site had higher ecosystem water use efficiency (eWUE), but more variability in eWUE was observed at the Savanna site. Both vegetation types were consistent net carbon sinks over three growing seasons, with contrasts in functioning observed under similar climatic conditions.

Latest Training Workshop

GIS for Educators and Learners: free online learning programme aligned to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.

Presenters: Kogie Govender, Caitlin Ransom, Keneilwe Hlahane, and Rion Lerm

Our Research Nodes

SAEON encompasses seven Research Nodes throughout South Africa and a National Office that is located in the country’s political capital of Pretoria. 

Research Infrastructures​

SAEON manages three research infrastructures developed by the Department of Science and Innovation as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR).

EFTEON aims to provide and operate a network of instrumented landscape-level platforms for the South African environmental research community, focused on socially relevant terrestrial landscapes and their coupled hydrological systems. 

The SMCRI provides an array of instruments and physical research platforms around the coast of South Africa and its sub-antarctic islands to collect long-term reliable data for scientific research to help decision makers formulate appropriate environmental policies to lessen the risk and vulnerability of the coastal zone to climate and global change.

The SAPRI is designed as a consortium hosted at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON). The ultimate objective of SAPRI is to enable balanced research growth across the polar disciplines, and to maintain and further expand the world-class long-term observational datasets already established.

SAEON facilitates and conducts research through platforms and these have grown into a diverse array of sites, instruments, infrastructure, datasets, models and staff, widely distributed across both marine and terrestrial environments. 


Professor Juliet Hermes Earns B1 NRF Rating

Professor Juliet Hermes, Manager at NRF-SAEON’s Egagasini Node and the South African Polar Research Infrastructure (SAPRI), was recently awarded the NRF B1 Rating, a well-deserved recognition that highlights her exceptional research contributions and commitment to the advancement of knowledge in marine sciences.

Read More »