Charlotte McBride

Charlotte McBride is a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria (UP), where she has been doing research for the past three years. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Her field of research contributes to the betterment of the world because it is vital for planning. According to McBride, understanding regional and local weather and climate extremes is key for planning purposes in sectors such as agriculture, health, disaster management and the built environment. This will give experts an idea of changes in the extent and frequency of extreme weather and climate phenomena.

“Such estimations would assist in the spatial allocation of resources to mitigate specific weather and climate hazards,” she says. “Similar analyses of possible future extreme climate scenarios are imperative to mitigate and adapt to climate-related disasters that are the result of climate change.”

In addition to her research duties, McBride also works at the South African Weather Service (SAWS), where she ensures that SAWS has quality, fit-for-purpose climate datasets that can be used for research. McBride says it is the work of the World Meteorological Organisation and the creation of an open-source climate data management system that is important if we are to manage weather and climate data effectively.

She says that her research matters because the more we know about the effects of climate change, the more we can plan for and hopefully adjust our behaviour to mitigate against the negative changes.

McBride is inspired in her research by world-renowned primatologist and anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall. In her book Reason for Hope, Dr Goodall emphasised that we look for ways to make the world a better place.

“As scientists, this should be our focus,” McBride says. “This should enable us to understand our world with the view to making it a better place to live and thrive in, and to ensure that we manage our natural resources with future generations in mind. I had the privilege of meeting this wonderful researcher in South Africa when she spoke at the National Science Festival in Makhanda [formerly Grahamstown] many years ago.”

McBride advises school learners or undergraduates who are interested in her field to find something that they are passionate about, to seek out people in that field to talk to and to job-shadow.

“Such interactions can confirm or lead you to discover other avenues of work that will be more enjoyable and exciting to participate in,” she says.

McBride is currently focused on getting her PhD. Once she has done that, she says she will focus on the next step. In her spare time, she enjoys bird-watching and spending time in nature.

Research by Charlotte McBride

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