Page 57 - UCT Research Report 2011

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it’s located in Namaqualand or across the rooftops of
Khayelitsha. The ERC’s MAPS (Mitigation Action Plans and
Scenarios) programme aims to share the expertise South
Africa has created in developing our Long Term Mitigation
Scenarios with other developing countries.
“In the Department of Botany’s Plant Conservation Unit,
Associate Professor Lindsey Gillson and Professor Timm
Hoffman are working on a project called Benchmarks for the
Future to understand how South African landscapes have
varied in the past, as climate has varied. That informs how
they might respond and must be managed in the future.”
Climate and habitat shifts affecting a vital area of
biodiversity – bird life – are being examined by the Percy
FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology.
“Generally,” says Professor New, “what we are trying
to do is understand how climate change may impact
on ecosystems and society. Then there’s the mitigation
side – trying to reduce the causes of climate change to
reduce the worst impacts – and there is a strong group
working on that in the Energy Research Centre, led by
Professor Harald Winkler. In the Law Faculty, Professor
Richard Calland is looking at the governance of climate
finance. There is also a lot of research under way around
the politics of mitigation.”
Knowledge that is usable
Further up on campus, Professor Bruce Hewitson is head
of UCT’s Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) and
holds the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Climate Change.
“CSAG leads the Africa co-ordination for CORDEX (the
Co-Ordinated Regional Climate Downscaling EXperiment),
which is an unprecedented initiative emanating from the
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). It has the
goal of providing probabilistic regional climate change
information for all terrestrial regions, and it recognises that
Africa is the most vulnerable to climate change and has
the weakest knowledge base from which to work. So Africa
has been prioritised as a domain of focus and we lead the
Africa group out of Cape Town.”
CORDEX and the CSAG Climate Information Portal are the
most important parts of CSAG’s work in providing society
with usable knowledge about climate change. CSAG’s
approach already exemplifies the teaching and outreach
that will be an essential part of the ACDI’s work.
climate change
The Prince of Wales addressing an audience at UCT, shortly after the launch of the African Climate and Development
Initiative in 2011.