The University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS) celebrated World Meteorological Day in style with the launch of the [email protected] initiative on 23 March 2021.
The topic, “Meteorology in support of decision-making: What lessons can be learned from the extraordinary weather events of the 2020/2021 rainfall season?” gained great interested and many high profile guests attended the virtual event.
Prof Barend Erasmus, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, chaired the panel and explained that "A core part of re-imagining higher education is how universities work with broader society to tackle the global existential crises of our time. These collaborations need conversations, and [email protected] provides the platform for the required thought leadership and solutions.”
Mr Mnikeli Ndabambi, Acting CEO of the South African Weather Service (SAWS), was the first speaker to share his views. “Without collaboration we won’t achieve any success – collaboration with the private sector and meteorological societies and the government is equally important.”
Prof Willem Landman from UP’s Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology (GGM) and a renowned seasonal forecaster, reiterated that all stakeholders need to be involved and part of the conversation about meteorology. “Forecasting is part and parcel of decision making and we need to understand what people and organisations requires from forecasting.” He also acknowledged the positive relationship that exists between the Department and the SAWS.
“It is not always necessary to provide clients with more complicated data, but rather make sure that the information is useful for them and that they understand it and that the information is applied successfully. Said Mr Sihle Kunene, Meteorological Product Developer at Africa Weather and a UP alumnus who also shared his views as a panellist.
Prof Liesl Dyson, also from GGM, focusing on weather forecasting, shared her experiences of recent extraordinary weather events, including ‘Africanes’ (a new concept which is tropical cyclone-like with low-pressure systems that develop over southern Africa and is responsible for widespread, heavy rainfall and floods) and tropical cyclones such as Eloise. “Weather forecasting has many financial implications and affect the livelihood of people.”
Another UP alumna also participated in the first [email protected], Ms Elizabeth Viljoen from the South African Weather Service shared her insights on the success of the SAWS Impact-Based Severe Weather Warning System. She underlined the fact that early warning systems need to be understandable and easy to use.
Dr Thando Ndarana, from UP’s Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology is an expert on dynamic meteorology explained that there need to be more research done on the medium range for weather events (seven to 14 days forecast). “If we understand this better, we would be able to plan better.”
The next [email protected] will take place on 20 May this year. Visit www.up.ac.za/nas for more details.
Click here to view the recording of the first [email protected] on 23 March 2021.