Infoscope: News snippets - CSIR
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Infoscope: News snippets - CSIR

infoscopeNews snippets from around the CSIRBOOK CORNERWRC: 40 Years of ExcellenceThe Water Research Commission(WRC) recently celebrated40 years of water research,reflecting on past achievements,but at the same time deliberatingon future challenges. Since 1971,the WRC has played a significantrole in providing South Africawith solutions and sufficientknowledge to address waterchallenges. The book, WRC –40 years of excellence, reflectson the impact of its activities,which have covered capacitybuilding in the water sector,broadening of South Africa’swater-centred research anddevelopment base, andcontinued commitment todirect and funded research.For a copy of the book,contact glimpses of environmental change in South AfricaObservations on EnvironmentalChange in South Africa wascommissioned by the SouthAfrican EnvironmentalObservation Network (SAEON)with funding from theDepartment of Science andTechnology (DST). A highlyillustrative, glossy, hard-coverwith striking photographs,satellite images and othergraphics, the book gives apicture of environmental changeand proposed responses on arange of themes and topics.It draws together work fromas many scientific disciplinesas possible, extracts pertinentinformation and presents it ina condensed format. Content isdivided into four sections, Peopleand Environmental Change;Atmospheric System andClimatic Change; Statesand Trends in theTerrestrial Environment;and States and Trends in theAquatic Environment. It is auseful resource for the generalpublic and government officialsresponsible for policy formulationand decision making onenvironmental issues. It willalso be of value to lecturers andstudents at higher educationinstitutions. Several CSIR staffmembers contributed to chaptersin the book. Dr Konrad Wessels,an environmental remotesensing specialist at the CSIR,was a member of the editorialcommittee.The book is available free fordownload as a pdf, or contactSAEON at 012 349 7722to order a hard copy.Climate change handbookfor southern AfricaThe Climate Risk andVulnerability Handbook forSouthern Africa was designedto provide decision makerswith up-to-date informationon impact and risk of climatechange and variability. Itis structured according tofour questions dealing withobservations of past, current andfuture climate; the likely impactsof such climate changes in keysectors and how countries in thesouthern African developmentcommunity should deal withthese adverse impacts.Launched at the Highway AfricaConference on African mediaand the global sustainabilitychallenge in Cape Town recently,it will soon be available instruments make regionalestimation of carbon fluxes a near-realityThe development of areliable regional network ofgreenhouse gas monitoringstations will be furtherenhanced by the acquisitionof three high-precisiongreenhouse gas monitoringinstruments.Funded by the NationalResearch Foundation’sResearch Infrastructure SupportProgramme, the Picarro G2401CRDS Analyser is recognised asa high precision instrument formeasurement of the top threegreenhouse gasses. It is capableof making measurements everyfive seconds, with a precisionof better than 0.05 parts-permillionvolume (ppmv) for CO 2,0.07 parts-per-billion volume(ppbv) for CH 4, and 100ppmv for H 2O. According toCSIR systems ecologist DrBob Scholes, an improvednetwork of atmosphericmonitoring stations oversouthern Africa will greatlyenhance local estimates ofcarbon sources and sinks,as well as regional estimateselsewhere.“High uncertainty inone region can lead tocompensation in otherregions to uphold theconservation of masslimitations imposed on theseatmospheric inversions,thereby increasing theuncertainty of these regionsas well,” he explains.– Wiida Basson| 3 |

infoscopeNews snippets from around the CSIREnergy efficiencyimprovementproject promotessustainabledevelopmentThe energy crisis of 2007/08,the impending water challengeand the current climate changepressures highlight the growingneed for sustainable developmentand to improve the capacity of SAindustry to use available energyresources more efficiently andproductively.In response to this, the IndustrialEnergy Efficiency ImprovementProject (IEEP) was established asa joint initiative between the dti,the DoE, UNIDO, the Swiss StateSecretariat for Economic Affairs andthe UK Association of InternationalDonors. To contribute towardsmeeting the country’s needs interms of suitably skilled capacity,regular training workshopson energy managementsystems (EnMS) and energysystems optimisation (ESO) arepresented by UNIDO-contractedinternational experts at a numberof locations across the country.Subsidised options are availablefor companies (including SMEs)to participate in the IEEP anddemonstrate the impact ofimplementing an EnMS and/orESO options in their plants.The IEEP is hosted by theNational Cleaner ProductionCentre of SA at the CSIR.– Petro de Wet| 4 |mLab Southern Africa officiallyopens doors in TshwaneA new regional lab formobile technology entrepreneurs,application developers, andinnovators (mLab) wasinaugurated on 15 September2011. mLab Southern Africa’sactivities are aimed at makingthe region a global hub for mobileinnovations to boost job-ledgrowth and address economicand social needs. mLab SouthernAfrica will draw on South Africa’shigh bandwidth environmentand pool of expertise with strongconnections to the rest of Africa.Situated at The InnovationHub, mLab SouthernAfrica is co-hosted bythe CSIR, The InnovationHub, InnovationLab andUngana-Afrika. Financialsupport is provided by theSouth African Departmentof Science and Technologyand infoDev, a WorldBank Group globalprogramme focusing onsupporting technologydrivensmall andmedium-sized enterprises.Health infrastructure research expertwins 2011 JD Roberts AwardThe contribution by GeoffAbbott in the planning, design andmanagement of health facilitiesin South Africa has won him thecoveted 2011 JD Roberts Award.The annual JD Roberts Award issponsored by Murray & Robertsand awarded in partnership withthe CSIR in recognition of researchexcellence at the CSIR. It wasinstituted by Murray & Roberts morethan three decades ago in honour ofone of the group’s founding fathers,Dr JD ‘Douglas’ Roberts.Abbott, a research architect atthe CSIR, plays a crucial role in anational project to provide newlong-term accommodation formulti-drug-resistant tuberculosispatients at nine hospitals. Oneof the most significant strategicplanning projects Abbott hasbeen involved with was SouthAfrica’s first comprehensivesurvey and audit of public healthcare infrastructure in SouthAfrica.He has also provided valuableguidance in immovable assetmanagement in the public sectorover many years.– Hilda van Rooyen

Africa’s first sea glidershave arrivedThe first two long-rangeautonomous iRobot Seaglidershave arrived in South Africa andwill soon be deployed into theheart of the world’s largest oceancurrent – the AntarcticCircumpolar Current.According to Dr SebastiaanSwart, oceanographer with theCSIR in Cape Town, long-rangegliders offer a unique platformfor ocean-climate observations,and represent one of the mostnovel technologies available inoceanography.Funded by the Department ofScience and Technology, thenewly-arrived gliders form partof a larger programme – theSouthern Ocean Carbon andClimate Observatory (SOCCO) –to build South Africa’s capacityin providing high-quality, precisedata related to carbon-climateinteractions in the Southern Ocean.Over the next ten months thegliders will undergo sea trials inlocations close to South Africa’scoast, such as False Bay and offthe West Coast.A group of oceanographersand technicians from the CSIR,the University of Cape Townand the Institute of MaritimeTechnology are being trained bythe manufacturer’s engineers tomanage the technical aspectsof these three-metre-longinstruments. They will then bedeployed in practice-runs just offthe coast, before going on boardthe SA Agulhas II, South Africa’sbrand new polar research vessel,for its first trip to Gough Island inSeptember 2012.These deployments will forma crucial part of SOCCO’sSouthern Ocean Seasonal CycleExperiment (SOSCEx) fromaustral spring to autumn(2012 to 2013), which willcombine measurements takenfrom ships, gliders and floats.The experiment will include theparticipation of internationalpartners from the United States,Norway and France and will bein preparation for South Africa’sparticipation in a planned multinationinternational experiment,beginning in 2014. This broaderexperiment aims to improve theglobal understanding of the linkbetween the carbon cycle andclimate in the Southern Ocean.– Wiida BassonDr Sebastiaan SwartAn ICON for southern AfricaEarlier this year,a voluntary committee wasestablished to integrate andsynthesise carbon data fromvarious institutions such asthe CSIR’s decade-old fluxtower in Skukuza and thecountry’s longest continuousatmospheric-measuring stationat the Cape of Good Hope,administered by the SouthAfrican Weather Services.Other members include theDepartment of EnvironmentalAffairs, South African NationalBiodiversity Institute and theCity of Cape Town.The objective of the newlyestablishedSouth AfricanIntegrated CarbonObservatory Network –SA-ICON for short – willbe to foster collaborationamong the differentinstitutions involved in thefield, and to lead to betterapplication of data, skillsand knowledge, explains theCSIR’s Dr Pedro Monteiro.“By working together we cancoordinate the placement ofinstruments measuring carbonand other greenhouse gasses.Currently, South Africa doesnot have a dedicated carbonobservation monitoringnetwork,” he explains.– Wiida Basson| 5 |

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