Page 63 - UCT Research Report 2011

Basic HTML Version

Professor Frank Shillington, co-director of the Nansen-Tutu
Centre, points out that the oceans comprise about 75% of the
surface area of the Earth, so it’s vital to understand how the
ocean-atmosphere climate system interacts.
Professor Chris Reason, head of the Department of
Oceanography, adds that although most media attention
is focused on climate change, research on fundamental
climate science and on climate variability is essential
“because we do not understand these topics sufficiently
well to have much confidence in the ability of models to
make realistic projections, either for seasonal forecasting
purposes or for climate change applications.” Professor
Reason is a lead author on the upcoming Fifth Assessment
of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“Our climate oriented research incorporates this type of
approach,” says Professor Shillington. “And it is beginning to
reveal how important the Agulhas Current System at the tip
of Africa is to the global climate system. Indeed, the unique
setting of the tip of Africa into the three adjacent oceans,
gives us a leading competitive edge.”
Breaking new ground
Professor New would agree with this assessment, which is
why the multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach
of the ACDI is seen as so important within the context of the
university and the future of the African content. In November
2011, shortly after the official launch of the ACDI, His Royal
Highness The Prince of Wales, on a visit to South Africa,
commended UCT on its bold decision to break new ground
and create a role dedicated to taking on this global challenge
holistically and that working together on this problem was the
only likely path to success.
“I, for one, have been incredibly heartened by the
University of Cape Town’s decision to appoint a Pro Vice-
Chancellor for Climate Change – an idea that I can only
hope will catch on elsewhere,” he says.
climate change
Student and staff delegates attending the African Operational Oceanography Workshop, hosted by the Nansen-Tutu
Centre in 2011.