Women’s Month 2019

August is a very special month for women in South Africa and this said we would like to salute women within the South African National Antarctic Programme.

SANAP is filled with strong women in Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and Southern Ocean research. The programme also consist of a number of brave women overwintering at the South African research stations (Marion Island, Gough Island and Antarctica).

There are 29 National Research Foundation/Department of Science and Technology  funded projects within SANAP and 13 of these are managed by women. This is evident that women definitely have a place within Antarctic research.

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) sends four volunteers to Antarctica every year. These volunteers assist with hard work (physically and mentally). The last take-over to Antarctica, three of the four South African National Space Agency (SANSA) volunteers were women.

During my trip to Antarctica earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet a number of very inspiring women – in the video below, meet the three SANSA volunteers of the 2018/2019 Antarctic take-over and the new VLF (Very Low Frequency) SANSA Engineer, who is currently overwintering at the South African National Antarctic Expedition station (SANAE IV).

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 13 August 2019.

Sound & Vibration research currently onboard the S.A. Agulhas II

It is the last week of the SCALExperiment Winter Cruise of 2019. Here’s what the engineers of Stellenbosch University are currently doing onboard the S.A. Agulhas II.

Observations of stern and bow slamming done from the SAAII bridge.

During the SCALE Voyyage to Antarctica, the Sound and Vibration Group has been conducting full scale measurements using accelerometers placed on the S.A. Agulhas II. Wave observations have been conducted to estimate the height and frequency of the waves encountered by the vessel. With this, slamming observations have been conducted. When the vessel is experiencing slamming the team is tasked to rate the slam according to the comfort experienced.

The team has conducted ship manoeuvers in open water while stationary and moving at various speeds. This was done to investigate under which wave states the vessel experiences slamming.

The team is also investigating human comfort onboard the vessel. Passengers fill in daily motion sickness and slamming surveys. In addition to this a head acoustic dummy, Mike, has been measuring the sound experienced in a passenger cabin.

Information received from: Prof Annie Bekker, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Stellenbosch University,  05 August 2019

Photos: supplied by Sound and Vibration Group 

West Indian Ocean Governance and Exchange Network (WIOGEN)

Dear all

The West Indian Ocean Governance and Exchange Network (WIOGEN) is one of the MeerWissen initiatives and was launched earlier this month. WIOGEN is an opportunity to produce joint publications through the science exchanges, be involved in a science to policy event, training schools and virtual learning. The network activities will be driven by the needs of the region and its members.

The first conference will take place on the 7th and 8th of November 2019. Please fill in the survey to ensure that you are included in news about WIOGEN and to express your interest in attending the November event (it is a non-obligatory expression of interest).  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BLQ95Q3

Please click here for more information. We look forward to welcoming you to the network and working with our partners to improve ocean governance in the West Indian Ocean.  If you have any questions please feel free to email info@wiogen.org or visit the (under construction) website:  https://wiogen.org/

Best wishes

Shannon

(Representing implementing partners IOI-SA and Leibniz Centre for Tropical Research – ZMT)

Dr Shannon Hampton
International Ocean Institute – African Region
CBC Building, Kirstenbosch, Rhodes Drive, Newlands
0217998830
www.ioisa.org
https://www.facebook.com/IOISouthernAfrica/
http://howtosurvivephd.blogspot.com/

Why is the Maties TracEx-group currently on the SCALExperiment Winter Cruise of 2019?

Jean Loock and Johan Viljoen, Stellenbosch University doctoral candidates currently onboard the S.A. Agulhas II, gave some insight on why the TracEx -group is so interested in studying the Southern Ocean during winter and the particular interest in the seasonal sea-ice.

“Phytoplankton are microorganisms that help regulate global climate through carbon dioxide uptake as they photosynthesise. To do this they require nutrients but in the remote oceans food is scarce, resulting in fierce competition and poor growth of these plankton. However, within the seasonal sea-ice that grows during winter and extends northwards from Antarctica, a thriving little community of microorganisms exist.

Our team is looking to analyze the snow layer on the ice, the ice itself and the water below the ice in an attempt to understand how these nutrients are concentrating within the ice. It may be that during the summer melting phase, these nutrients are expelled from the ice and provide the food required for large scale blooms of phytoplankton and thereby improved carbon dioxide uptake. These curious cases are crucial to improving our understanding of the climate system in a changing environment”.

Follow the TracEx Group on Facebook and Twitter.

Preparing the Mini Geotraces CTD Rosette before the cruise:

On the day of the first launch, during the #SCALExperiment #WinterCruise2019 .

Team TracEx getting ready to deploy their new mini CTD rosette in ice conditions to collect water samples to study the trace metals in the water column below ice. Photo Credit: Johan Viljoen.

 

For more information on #SCALExperiment #WinterCruise2019  – click here.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 01 August 2019

 

Current event: SCALE Winter Cruise 2019

SCALE, WinterCruise2019

Cruise Date: 18 July 2019 until 12 August 2019.

Do you want to know more about this year’s SCALE (Southern oCean seAsonal Experiment) Winter Cruise, which is multi-disciplinary, multi-institution, multi-national research conducted in the Southern Ocean?

Click on the media brief below for more information:

For more information on this year’s scientific programme and to meet the national and international partners part the cruise – click here.

Check out the following hashtags on social media:

#SCALExperiment and #WinterCruise2019

 

SEAmester IV – photos and more

SEAmester2019, SEAmester, SEAmester IV

On the 1st of July 2019, 41 students from various universities across South Africa have set sail from the Port of Cape Town, onboard the S.A. Aghulus II, as part of the annual SEAmester course run by Prof Isabelle Ansorge from the Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town. Assisting her onboard is Tahlia Henry, programme coordinator; watch this interview with Tahlia just before departure.  Students who are in the marine field of study and who make it through the hundreds of applications get the fantastic opportunity to participate in this 11-day South African class afloat. The cruise travels up the coast to Port Elizabeth where the vessel turns into the deeper oceans in order to travel along the ASCA line. The line plots its course at certain intervals, where CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) tests are done.

While students are onboard the days are filled with a selection of lectures and practicals, run by leaders in the field of marine science. The practicals give students some hands-on experience within their field of interest, for example students get to partake in CTD observations where the CTD is lowered to different depths at different points along the cruise to measure depth, salinity and temperature. These observations are done in order to gain a better understanding of the Aghulus current. The South African Weather Service also has a meteorological technician/forecaster onboard, demonstrating the release of a weather balloon, while informing students on the data gathered from the radiosonde (box attached to the balloon gather certain data) – view this video to  learn more about weather observations from the S.A. Agulhas II. Other practicals onboard include; dissections on marine mammals, parasitology studies, seafloor sediments studies, mammal observations and micro plastic sampling.

Surrounded by the blue ocean looking left, right, backwards and forwards reminds one of the vastness of the ocean.  Sunrises and sunsets are most definitely a highlight for students as they are able to watch the sun break through the horizon from the monkey deck.

The cruise has thus far experienced some great weather in the first few days, but we did end up face to face with a cold front. It was a slightly bumpy ride to say the least as the vessel had to navigate its way through 9m swells and 40 knot winds.

The vessel is expected to back in the Port of Cape Town by morning, 11 July 2019.

S.A. Ahulhas II moving through calm waters. Photo Credit: Alex Oelofse.

All photo supplied by the photographer onboard the vessel: Alex Oelofse.

Author: Alex Oelofse, Photographer onboard the vessel. Edited by: Anché Louw, 09 July 2019.

Welcome home Marion75 and take-over personnel

The S.A. Agulhas II arrived in Cape Town yesterday, 15 May 2019, after being away for 34 days.

The vessel returned with the 75th Marion Island overwintering team, all take-over scientists (land-and ship based) and take-over personnel.

Marion75 departed last year on 06 April 2018 and they are now reunited with family and friends after approximately 13 months.

Click here to see who was on this team and more about the different scientific groups (land-and ship based).

Note that there are more institutions involved in take-over science on the island, not mentioned in this video such as the Biocomplexity Project (University of Johannesburg) and Observing Dawn in the Cosmos (University of KwaZulu Natal). These projects does not have personnel overwintering on the island.

Marion75 and take-over personnel, addressed by the Deputy Director-General Oceans and Coasts, Judy Beaumont:

 

Marion75, M75, Marion Island, Overwintering Team

L-R (front): Dakalo Gangashe (Base Engineer), Maliviwe Mnengisa (Medic/Team leader), Zinhle Shongwe (Assistant meteorologist), Stephan Keys (Birder), Dani Keys (Birder), Dineo Mogashoa (Winder/Botanist); (middle) Oyena Masiko (Birder), Vhulahani Manukha (Space Engineer), Mavis Lekhesa (Radio Technician), Michael Taunyane (Diesel Mechanic / Deputy Team Leader). Sechaba Nyaku (Senior Meteorologist). Michelle Thompson (Birder). Monica Leitner (Assistant ECO), Liezl Pretorius (Sealer/Deputy Science Team Leader), Elsa van Ginkel (Winder/Botanist), Bongekile Kuhlase (Botanist); (back) Abuyiselwe Nguna (Geomorphologist/Science Team Leader), Jabulani Thabede (Chef), James Burns (Assistant meteorologist), Charlotte Heijnis (Senior ECO), Sean Morar (Birder). Welly Qwabe (Sealer), Michael Voysey (Killer whaler/sealer), Marike Louw (Botanist).

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 16 May 2019.

Attention all early career scientists

The information below was sent through by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

SCAR Fellowship Scheme, partnerships and new opportunities in 2019

Fellowship logo

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP), and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have been working together for many years to support talented early-career researchers, scientists, engineers, environmental managers, and other professionals to strengthen international capacity and cooperation in fields such as science support and facilitation, environmental management implementation, and climate, biodiversity, conservation, humanities and astrophysics research by way of an annual funding opportunity.

For 2019, these Antarctic organisations are joined by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), who will each support additional Antarctic-related fellowships.

SCAR Launches Antarctic Fellowship Opportunities for 2019

SCAR today launches its 2019 Antarctic-related Fellowships for early-career researchers. SCAR will offer 5 to 6 fellowships of up to USD $15,000 each for 2019, with additional support for the scheme having been provided by India, Korea and France. A new SCAR/WMO Fellowship is also available in 2019 as detailed below. The Fellowships enable early-career researchers to join a project team from another country, opening up new opportunities and often creating partnerships that last for many years and over many Antarctic field seasons. The deadline for fellowship applications is 17 July 2019.

Additional opportunities in 2019 through the SCAR Fellowship scheme

For 2019 there are a number of extra opportunities through the SCAR scheme, with some restrictions on applicability but using the standard application process for SCAR Fellowships:

  • India is providing support to fund one full SCAR Fellowship, with France providing a contribution to the Fellowship funds.
  • The Republic of Korea will also contribute to one Fellowship to be allocated to an applicant from a country which has been under-represented within the SCAR Fellowship scheme to date.
  • For the new SCAR/WMO Fellowship, the WMO and SCAR will jointly fund one Fellowship for applicants from a WMO country who meet the Fellowship eligibility criteria of the WMO.

COMNAP and IAATO have already launched their Fellowship scheme for 2019 and CCAMLR launch their Scholarship scheme with two deadlines in 2019. Details are available at : https://www.scar.org/community-news/fellowship-opportunities-launched/

Background information:

The SCAR scheme is launched today, noting the complementary schemes of our partners – the COMNAP and IAATO Fellowship Scheme and the CCAMLR Scientific Scholarship Scheme. Full details of these schemes are available on their respective websites below.

For more information on SCAR Fellowships, visit the SCAR website at:
www.scar.org/awards/fellowships/information/

For information on the COMNAP and IAATO Fellowships, visit the COMNAP website at:
www.comnap.aq/SitePages/fellowships.aspx

For information on CCAMLR Scholarships, visit the CCAMLR website at:
www.ccamlr.org/en/science/ccamlr-scientific-scholarship-scheme

SANAP students graduating

Congratulations to Daniela Monsanto and Mthoko Twala, two SANAP students completing their Masters degrees, both with cum laude, within the field of biology.

Daniela completed her degree at the University of Johannesburg, under the supervision of Prof Bettine van Vuuren. This Masters was part of the SANAP project: Biocomplexity: Understanding biological patterns in space and time. Daniela examined fine-scale spatial genetic patterns in one of the most dominant and ecologically significant soil organisms across the sub-Antarctic region, the Collembola Cryptopygus antarcticus. Her work highlighted a genetic discontinuity, which when overlaid onto a detailed geomorphological map of the area, coincided with a 3 meter ridge (for Collembola, this height is equivalent to a human scaled to 2.5 times the height of Table Mountain).

Mthoko completed his degree at the University of Pretoria, under the supervision of Dr Michelle Greve. This Masters was part of the SANAP project: Invasions in the changing sub-Antarctic. Mthoko assessed whether the invasive plant, Sagina procumbens, disproportionately benefits other invasive species on Marion Island. He found mixed results, with invasive plants necessarily benefitted from Sagina, but invasive collembolans benefitting more than native collembolans.

Congratulations to the students, as well as the supervisors.

See below these achievements announced on social media.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 30 April 2019

SANAP Project News: SOCCO Gliders Home

SOCCO, SANAP, Southern Ocean

Our Wave Gliders have arrived back from the Southern Ocean.  Last Friday 5th April we picked up our second carbon Waveglider WG027 a few tens of metres from the breakwater in Granger Bay at the end of an exciting but problem free transit of 1500km from the Sub-Antarctic Zone (43oS 8oE)(Video).  Its twin WG052 had completed its even longer transit of 2800km from the Polar Upwelling Zone (54oS OoE) 9 days earlier.  Both units arrived in excellent shape in what was a first for us, bringing our gliders home with a ship pick-up.  Both gliders completed 4-month long missions of which 10 weeks were sampling at their respective locations and 6 weeks transiting back to Cape Town.

VIDEO: WG052 waiting to be picked up off Granger Bay in a cold misty morning in Cape Town a couple of weeks ago after its 2800km epic from 54oS.

Bringing the gliders home under their own means opens the door towards the direction of reducing the dependency on ships and reduces the long-term costs of long-term observations.  It is a significant technical challenge for the robots and the engineers.  The biggest problems we encountered, apart from the vicious storms, were the very strong mesoscale jets west of the Agulhas retroflection area.  Jets with flow speeds of over 2kn posed navigation challenges for the pilots but we also learned much from the experience and despite a few necessary deviations (Figure 1a,b) that probably added a week to the transit we got them home in really good shape (Figure 2).

The decision to bring them home was shaped by two main considerations: firstly, we wanted to avoid the expensive physical damage to the gliders that often happens with ship recovery, especially under the typically rough conditions in the Southern Ocean.  As it turned out we made the right call especially for WG052 which would have been all but impossible to retrieve such were the conditions.  Secondly, we wanted to evaluate if wave gliders can be combined to address mesoscale differences in the response of the ocean to synoptic scale atmospheric forcing.

As mentioned in earlier posts each of these gliders was paired with a buoyancy glider over the entire period of deployment at their respective long-term observational sites in the SAZ and the PUZ as part of two NRF-funded SOCCO SOSCEX-Storm projects.  This pairing enabled us to simultaneously observe the air-sea fluxes of CO and the ocean physics dynamics that influence them in the upper 1000m of the ocean.  This is necessary because it is not clear how important these ocean dynamics are in predicting the climate sensitivity of the carbon cycle in the Southern Ocean.   This learning will be used to improve the Earth System Models used to predict regional and global climate change, particularly the South African CSIR-VrESM model being developed as a collaboration between SOCCO, Global Change Institute-Wits University and the MaRe Institute at UCT.

All the instruments were fully operational over the entire time and the initial look at the data suggests that we have excellent accuracy and precision.  This was the first operational test for our newly developed VeGAS pCO2 units on both gliders and we will do a deep dive into the data later this week.

This science work would not have been possible without the expertise and dedication of our engineering partners at Sea Technology Services who run SA-RobOTIC and their student engineers.

 

– Dr. Pedro M. Scheel Monteiro & SOCCO & SA-RobOTIC team, 08 April 2019 (posted 16 April 2019)

Antarctic Earth Scientists take note…

SCAR Event Announcement
XIII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences

The abstract submission deadline for the XIII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences has been extended to 21 April 2019.

Please go to the event website (click here) for more information.

 

Welcome home S.A. Agulhas II

Welcome to Cape Town SANAE57 team, take-over personnel, Weddell Sea Expedition crew, Department of Public Works personnel and Nolitha Construction (responsible for the refurbishments of the SANAE IV base), the Ultimate Helicopter Crew and the S.A. Agulhas II’s Captain and Crew.

The 57th South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE) team has returned to Cape Town, after 15 months away from home (see photo below). This team had to stay a bit longer at SANAE IV than usual, due to the longer take-over in order to accommodate the Weddell Sea Expedition, that was incorporated in the 2018/2019 Antarctica Cruise.

L-R (Back): Stephanus Schoeman (RADAR Engineer), John Skelete (Diesel Mechanic), Bo Orton (Electrician), Will Jelbert (Doctor), Forster Mashele (VLF Engineer), Sabelo Biyela (Diesel Mechanic); (front) Hloni Rakoteli (Communications Engineer), Lux Tanyana (Base Engineer), Elias Seabi (Meteorological Technician) and Cobus van der Merwe (Neutron Engineer).

This Weddell Sea Expedition was funded by the The Flotilla Foundation and the S.A. Agulhas II chartered a team of scientists into the Weddell Sea, for extensive scientific exploration on and around the LarsenC ice shelf and the A68 Iceberg. Click here to meet the South Africans that was part of this expedition.

The Weddell Sea Expedition also involved the search for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance (click here for more information), but due to unfavourable weather conditions and the loss of the AUV (automated underwater vehicle) the search was ended where after the ship headed back to Penguin Bukta where overwintering members (S57) and take-over personnel of SANAE IV boarded the ship.

The welcoming ceremony was led by Mathibela Selepe (Department of Environmental Affairs, Chief Engineer: Telecommunications and Instrumentation) and welcoming speech delivered by Mbulelo Dopolo (Department of Environmental Affairs, Branch: Oceans and Coasts, Director: Earth Systems Strategies).

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 15 March 2019

New South Africa National Committee for SCAR

Steven Chown

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) President, Prof Steven Chown from Monash University, with some representatives at the meeting of the South Africa National Committee for SCAR.

South Africa has been involved in Antarctic research since the geophysical year of 1957. The first 10 years of South Africa’s science and research in the Antarctic is highlighted in an article by  DG Kingwell, at that stage the secretary of the South African Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SASCAR).

The Antarctic Research of South Africa is  part of The International Science Council (ISC), South Africa.

South Africa is a national member of ISC through the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The South African ISC -Secretariat serves the scientific community and the ISC scientific unions and affiliates to which South Africa adheres. The SA ISC Secretariat provides support and organisational services for the ISC National Board of SA, and to the SA ISC National Committees to advance South Africa’s position in international platforms. The total membership of these committees is in excess of 200 scientists.  Approximately 100 South Africans serve on ICS-related commissions and working groups. The ISC activities in South Africa are focused on the following principals:

  • Science-for-policy: Stimulate and support national and international scientific research and scholarship, and to communicate science that is relevant to national and international policy issues;
  • Policy-for-science: Promote developments that enable science to contribute more effectively to major issues in the national and international public domain;
  • Science-for-society: Stimulate science engagement with society;
  • Scientific freedom and responsibility: Support the free and responsible practice of science;
  • Adherence: Support committees through payment of ISC membership dues.

South Africa Science and Research is also part of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) where the committee members will represent South Africa at SCAR meetings.

The new National Committee has been announced  in a letter by Tracy Klarenbeek – Professional Officer, Knowledge Advancement and Support (KAS) and their first meeting took place at Stellenbosch University on 6 March 2019.

Dear SANAP Community,

It gives me great pleasure in sharing the names of the individuals selected to represent us all at SCAR. Of course, these individuals will rely heavily on inputs from the entire community, so I sincerely hope that you will be available to support them in their endeavours. Members of the community that are not an the steering committee are still strongly encouraged to participate in SCAR and SCAR-related activities. The DST and the NRF are planning a follow-up meeting with the whole community, hopefully by the middle of the year (academic and other schedules permitting), so as to give feedback on a number of initiatives ongoing that will possibly impact on us all, including plans for current and future SA participation in SCAR. We look forward to seeing you there.

The final list is below, the details of which will be communicated to SCAR in due course.  Professor Bettine van Vuuren was nominated as the Committee Chair, Tracy Klarenbeek as Vice-Chair and Dr Gilbert Siko representing the Department of Science and technology.

Life Sciences Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Thulani Makhalanyane (South African Representative)
  • Bettine van Vuuren
  • Anne Treasure

Physical Sciences Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Sandy Thomalla
  • Sarah Fawcett (South African Representative)
  • Stefan Lotz

Geosciences Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Christel Hansen
  • Werner Nel
  • Geoff Grantham (South African Representative)

Social Sciences and Humanities Standing Committee of SCAR

  • Anché Louw
  • Ria Olivier (South African Representative)
  • Charne Lavery

Please give this committee your support in their efforts to take South African science to the world via SCAR.

 

 

Current Cruise: Glider deployment, data collection and retrieval

SOCCO, Gliders, CSIR, UCT

The S.A. Agulhas II is now on its homeward journey having finished all logistical and scientific work at SANAE and in the Weddell Sea (track the ship here). The work is not yet over for all aboard, however. Scientists from the University of Cape Town (UCT), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the South African Weather Service (SAWS) continue to collect oceanographic and meteorological data. UCT and CSIR are both sampling seawater as the ship sails, measuring chlorophyll, nutrients, ammonium and phytoplankton community composition, to name a few.

Over and above this, CSIR—more particularly, CSIR SOCCO—and Martin Mohrmann of the University of Gothenburg and ROAM-MIZ deployed oceanographic instruments on the voyage south to Antarctica (see photos below). CSIR SOCCO, or the Southern Ocean Carbon & Climate Observatory, is a South African research programme focused on the Southern Ocean. ROAM-MIZ, according to their website, “is a multi-institutional initiative to observe the full seasonal cycle of the upper ocean in the marginal ice zone near the Greenwich Meridian”. CSIR SOCCO deployed two wave gliders, a Seaglider and a Slocum glider. ROAM-MIZ deployed two Seagliders and a Sailbuoy, christened SB Kringla. These instruments continuously record oceanographic data while they move through the water. The wave gliders and the Sailbuoy remain at the surface, harnessing wave and wind power, respectively, to propel them through the water. The Seagliders and Slocum glider alter their buoyancy to dive and sample sea water during their journeys to the deeps (deep parts of the ocean) and back to the surface. All these vehicles transmit their data to satellites at regular intervals or when they surface after a dive.

Deployment of Gliders

With the S.A. Agulhas II now making for home, the time has come to recover these instruments in order that they can be serviced and used again in future deployments. The wave gliders, in a true feat of engineering, are being piloted home to Cape Town. This is due to reducing sunlight available for the solar panels of the southernmost glider as the receding summer light wanes at these high latitudes. This will entail a journey of 1200 km and 2500 km for the respective wave gliders (click here for the update on the position of the gliders). Two Seagliders, the Slocum glider and the Sailbuoy will be recovered on the voyage home. The third Seaglider is to be recovered by another vessel, the Norwegian RV Kronprins Haakon, sailing from Punta Arenas in Chile.

On the 1st of March, the Sailbuoy and a ROAM-MIZ Seaglider were both safely recovered in fair weather at 60°S 0°E. The speed and success of the recovery were entirely down to the skill of the S.A. Agulhas II’s crew and the prevailing calm weather. Next, the Slocum glider will be recovered at 54°S 0°E and then CSIR SOCCO’s remaining buoyancy glider at 43°S 8°E. The S.A. Agulhas II is now making for 54°S 0°E after having sailed to South Thule and South Georgia for SAWS deployments and commitments.

Retrieval of Gliders

For more information on CSIR’s SOCCO programme, click here and for further information on ROAM-MIZ, click here.

Cover Photo: ROAM-MIZ’s two buoyancy gliders making satellite contact in preparation for deployment.

 

Written by: Hermann Luyt, Oceanography, University of Cape Town

Edited by: Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 07 March 2019

Photo Credit (all): Hermann Luyt

SANAP Project News: SOCCO (follow-up)

SOCCO, SANAP, Southern Ocean

SOSCEX-Storm II Experiment Wave Gliders heading to Cape Town from the Antarctic waters

Following up on the story of the our Liquid Robotics Wavegliders returning home to Cape Town from the Southern Ocean (click here) we have now completed the first half of the journey. Waveglider WG052 will arrive at its intermediate waypoint 43°S 9°E on Saturday 2nd March.  It has completed the first 1200km of its journey in 17 days at an average of 70km per day during which it sailed through 3 storms and crossed both the Polar and Sub-Antarctic fronts (see photo below).

SOCCO, Gliders, Wavegliders

On Sunday 3rd March WG052 will meet up with its twin WG027 that has been making its own CO2 and physics measurements at our long term observation station SAZ-1 since early December 2018. They will return together in the second 1200km stretch of sub-polar and sub-tropical waters but separated by about 50 – 100km to test some ideas about the correlations length scales for pCO2.  Both units continue to provide almost real time observations of ocean physics and CO2.  You will see from the attached pic (earth.nullschool.net), which is derived from almost real time satellite observations-based surface ocean circulation product OSCAR of the mesoscale features around the south of Africa, that we are aiming to use one of these “jets” to propel both gliders towards Cape Town across the turbulent cauldron west of the Agulhas current retroflection.  It shows very nicely how the ocean is not made up of large homogeneous currents but a series of high speed jets and eddies.  We are exploring how the interaction of storms with these features influence the seasonal variability and ultimately the climate sensitivity of the air – sea fluxes of CO2 in the Southern Ocean.

 

– Dr. Pedro M. Scheel Monteiro & SOCCO & SA-RobOTIC team, 01 March 2019 (posted 06 March 2019)

Currently on the S.A. Agulhas II – Sea Ice Observations

Weddell Sea Expedition, Southern Ocean, Sea Ice, Sea Ice Observations

Sea Ice Observations currently conducted onboard the S.A. Agulhas II by Stellenbosch University and University of Cape Town.

As the S.A. Agulhas II is currently returning from the Weddell Sea Expedition and the SANAE IV take-over voyage (current position about S 61°12′ E 000°00′), scientist onboard the vessel are still hard at work…

Check out this video and learn more…

 

Click here to see who is onboard, returning form the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019.

Want to see more video’s? Go to Facebook (click here).

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 01 March 2019

Marion Islander taking 2nd place in Young Science Communicators Competition

Marike Louw, Marion Island, Science Communication, Young Science Communicators Competition

This competition, initiative of SAASTA (the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement), is a great way of encouraging young scientists in developing skills to communicate science to the broader public. Doing this in your mother tongue can be a difficult task as not all scientific words can be translated and this skill was also tested in this competition, as 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Marike Louw, Marion Island, Science Communication, Young Science Communicators Competition

Marike Louw (MSc, CIB DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University) is currently one of the botanical field assistants on the 75th Marion Island Overwintering team.

One of the SANAP overwintering personnel on Marion Island, Marike Louw, sees the need to communicate science and the setup of the scientific environment on Marion Island. Marike is one of the four female botanical field assistants on the island and her job (since April 2018 until May 2019) is to estimate percentage vegetation in 3x3m plots, which is scattered all over the island. This data is gathered for a SANAP project, i.e “Invasions in the changing sub-Antarctic“, run by Dr Michelle Greve of the University of Pretoria. This job entails a lot of hiking and hard work in challenging weather conditions, which she is totally up for. Read more about Marike and the other three botanists in the November issue The Wanderer, the Marion Island Newsletter (Click here).

The competition was divided into five categories; article, open, indigenous language, video and audio. Marike entered for three categories i.e. article, video and audio. She was awarded with 2nd place in two of the three categories (video and audio). Check out the video and you will truly be inspired by the enthusiasm and love for science that the Marion Island field assistants have. Marike is also very proud to be among a team of 24 overwinterers on Marion Island, where all 11 official South African languages are spoken (listen to the audio).

Video Category (English):

Title: Denizens of Marion Island | Theme: Science transforming Society

Intended platform: Online education platform

Audio Category:

Title: Rainbow Nation on a Sub-Antarctic Island  | Theme: Science transforming Society

Intended platform: Education South African podcast or a radio platform
for a broad science-interested audience

 

Read more about this competition here.

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 26 February 2019

 

SANAP Project News: SOCCO

SOCCO, SANAP, Southern Ocean

SOCCO: Southern Ocean Carbon & Climate Observatory

SOCCO, SANAP, Southern OceanSOCCO. Glider, Southern Ocean

SANAP Project name: How storm characteristics in the Southern Ocean influence inter annual variability of CO2 fluxes

This summer SOCCO conducted the second SOSCEX-Storm glider-based experiment in the Southern Ocean as part of its 3 year science plan. We deployed two carbon wave gliders equipped with our SA-RobOTIC designed and built and pCO2 sensors, which have behaved flawlessly under the most dire conditions that the Southern Ocean could throw at them, which included weekly storms of 80-140km/h winds, waves of 10+m, snow storms and sea temperatures of -1 to 2°C.  During this 2 month period they have taken over 3000 pCO2, pH, temperature and salinity observations. It was a rigorous test for the pCO2 sensors, which have a design feature that is specifically made to cope with Southern Ocean storms. It can be submerged by a wave which will mean that it taken a bit of water through the air intake but when the detectors pick this up it uses it pressurized gas to expel the moisture and continues to provide high quality data.  This deployment was a significant achievement for our SA-RobOTIC engineering and an indication of how our expertise to operate in these conditions has matured and become globally recognized.  This deployment was important for two reasons, it allowed us to start to examine the role of storms in driving the carbon – climate feedback in the Southern Ocean and it is a preparation phase for the SCALE experiment that starts in July 2019.  The hypothesis, which is core to our NRF-SANAP and DST funding, that we are exploring is that climate-linked changes in storm characteristics will play an important role in the century scale carbon – climate feedbacks. Ocean robots and high precision sensors make this science possible.

We have however encountered a problem with the glider deployed at 54°S which is, that while it generated enough power during the peak of summer with nearly 24 hours of daylight, this is no longer the case in February with the sun setting for increasingly long periods – night is arriving in Antarctica.  Wave gliders use solar panels to power the sensors.  The second glider was deployed at 43°S where there is still plenty of sunlight.  In a normal year the gliders would have been picked up by the S.A. Agulhas II coming back from SANAE at about this time but this year the ship is coming back nearly 5 weeks later because it is chartered by a British team to find the Endurance, Shackleton’s ship.  As a matter of interest we are collaborating with some of our aeronautical engineering colleagues at CHPC (Centre for High Performance Computing) to develop an underwater power generator to enable us to make winter (no sunlight) deployments in July 2019.

For this reason we have made the decision to pilot both wave gliders home to Cape Town without the ship.  This will be a journey of 2500km for WG-052 and 1200km for WG-027.  We think this has the added advantage of reducing the risk of damage during retrieval by the ship, which has happened a few times due to the normally difficult conditions on retrieval.  So, wave glider 052 has now left its long term observation position at 54°S on the prime meridian and is heading home towards wave glider 027 which is at 43°S.  It is travelling at a speed of about 100km per day.  The sensors are all working and we will take advantage of this opportunity to conduct an experiment that needs 2 gliders while they are on the way home.  We expect them home in a month, mid-March and we will pick them up in Granger Bay in front of our SA-RobOTIC centre.

SOCCO, Southern Ocean, Gliders

Route of the WG052 and 027 gliders (2019)

The wave gliders were paired with a buoyancy glider each that are making observations down the water column to 1000m 4 – 5 times a day.  This pairing of wave gliders and buoyancy gliders is a SOCCO innovation under the SOSCEX series of experiments since 2013/14.  The two buoyancy gliders will remain on station waiting for ship retrieval in mid-March.

 

– Dr. Pedro M. Scheel Monteiro & SOCCO & SA-RobOTIC team, 18 February 2019

 

SOCCO on Social Media

http://socco.org.za/news/riding-the-waves-home/

South African scientists on the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019

Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Weddell Sea Expedition, Science, Oceanography, University of Cape Town, Fawcett Lab

Meet Dr Sarah Fawcett

Antarctica, Antarcticlegacy, Weddell Sea

Dr Sarah Fawcett on the S.A. Agulhas II (CTD in the background). Photo Credit: Hermann Luyt

Dr Fawcett is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town. She is a P-rated scientist (National Research Foundation Rating), who is the Principal Investigator of a South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) project titled “A nitrogen cycle view of atmospheric CO2 sequestration in the Antarctic Ocean“. She was also elected to the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) towards the end of last year (Read more here).

We are very proud that Dr Fawcett is part of the scientific team on the Weddell Sea Expedition that is currently underway. She represents South Africa as part of the UCT/SAEON/NMU team. Other institutions involved in this expedition includes the Scott Polar Institute (Cambridge, UK), the Nekton Foundation (UK) and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). Read more about the Weddell Sea Expedition here.

Watch this video (low quality as it came directly from the Weddell Sea) where Dr Fawcett tells us more about the physical oceanography sampling conducted during the scientific leg of the exhibition and the use of this specific type of sampling.

Also listen to Dr Fawcett on Cape Talk radio and read this for more information regarding the physical oceanography leg of this scientific exploration in the Weddell Sea.

Cover photo and video credit: Hermann Luyt

Anche Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, 07 February 2019

 

Environmental Affairs to launch first South African Antarctica Season Week

29 November 2018

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in partnership with the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA), will be launching the first ever South African Antarctica Season Week on 03 December 2018 at the Cruise Terminal in the Port of Cape Town.

Antarctica Week will take place from 03 to 07 December 2018, and the activities will include exhibitions to the guests, schools and the public; science discussions; heritage presentations; stakeholder engagements; etc.

The DEA has identified TNPA, Port of Cape Town as the location of a new Antarctic Centre, which will be built to enhance the country’s role as an Antarctic Gateway. The centre will support the promotion of the Antarctic continent and its various economic opportunities for South Africa.

The centre, which fits within the department’s Antarctic Strategy, will be announced at the launch which will also mark the departure of the SA Agulhas II for its annual Antarctic relief voyage and the start of the annual Norwegian-South Africa seminar and exhibition, ending 7 December 2018.

Members of the media are invited to attend as follows:

Date: Monday, 3 December 2018
Venue: Cruise Terminal, Port of Cape Town
Time: 10:00-12:00

  • To facilitate ease of passage at the Port, kindly RSVP with your ID number to Gaopalelwe Moroane (gmoroane@environment.gov.za) by end of business, 30 November 2018.
  • For RSVPs and scheduling of interviews please contact Gaopalelwe Moroane on 0825121094 / GMoroane@environment.gov.za / 063 6979001

For media queries please contact:

Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483
E-mail: znqayi@environment.gov.za

2019 SANAP Postgrad Positions

Completing an MSc or PhD within the South African National Antarctic Programme can be something out of the ordinary.

Are you interested in the sub-Antarctic, Antarctic or the Southern Ocean?

Keep an eye out for related postgrad positions here.

 

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 22 October 2018

Dr Gansen Pillay statement at 5th SANAP Symposium

FIFTH SANAP SYMPOSIUM : OPENING REMARKS (13 August 2018)

Gansen Pillay PhD

 

DCEO: Research and Innovation Support and Advancement (RISA)

 

Distinguished Participants

It is a pleasure and privilege to provide some Opening Remarks on behalf of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of SA on the occasion of the 5th SANAP Symposium jointly hosted by CPUT and SANSA.  This afternoon, I would like to focus on four dimensions.

Firstly, I would like to focus on this Symposium and its importance.  Secondly, I would like to explore the strategic positioning of SANAP and its related research areas in the context of a global research agenda.  Thirdly, we will share with you the latest information relating to the funding of SANAP by the NRF.  And finally, I would like to focus on training the next generation of researchers, viz., our postgraduate students.

Our sincere congratulations to the Conference Organisers for conceptualizing the content and themes for this Symposium.  Hermanus as a venue could not have been more ideal venue given the themes of this meeting.  This Symposium signifies a meeting of the oceans and space, each looking at the other through different lenses, yet focusing on the common good of responsiveness, relevance and sustainability.

We take the opportunity of congratulating Prof Isabelle Ansorge and her joint authors for the timely article in the South African Journal of Science (SAJS) titled “SEAmester – SA’s first class afloat”. It intersects the Global Change Grand Challenge and draws on Operation Phakisa.  As you may be aware, one of NRF’s National Research Facilities (NFs), viz., the SA institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) is a partner in this initiative.  This goes a long way towards accelerating NRF’s objective of not just providing NFs but National Research Infrastructure Platforms (NRIPs).

We would also like to commend SANAP on its new SANAP portal and website (www.sanap.ac.za), the Antarctic Legacy Platform (http://blogs.sun.ac.za/antarcticlegacy/).  It is current and informative and its presence on Facebook and other social media platforms is very encouraging.

The public lecture on ‘South Africa’s legacy within the Antarctic region’ being presented this evening is timely and critical to the public understanding of science.

This symposium provides delegates the opportunity to present their research within the Southern Ocean, Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions.

Interwoven into the fabric of the Symposium is a rich tapestry of complementary themes on (i) A window into geospace; (ii) Southern Oceans in the coupled ocean; (iii) Carbon-climate links and geotraces; (iv) Ecosystem functioning and the response to global change; (v) Biodiscovery and biotechnology; (vi) Earth and living systems; (vii) Paleosciences and human history; and (viii) Innovation, technology and engineering.  A research canvas of this nature offers enormous possibilities.

Given the aforementioned, I would like to move to the second dimension of my Opening Remarks, viz., the strategic positioning of SANAP research in the global research agenda.  One of the hallmarks of any successful organization or company like Apple is the ability to respond to change.  Those who adapt to change, survive.  Those who do not, perish.  A systems thinking approach is essential.

When one looks at the various themes of this Symposium its main focus is on interactions and the ability to respond to change.  So what exactly happens in the Southern Oceans and Space?  Is there a constant quest for dynamic equilibrium and sustainability?  Is there a symphony at play that is being orchestrated and conducted by global climate change?  What are SA’s geographic and competitive advantages?  In responding to how we position SANAP, we have to accept that we cannot be everything to everyone.  So what is it that we do that is unique or what is it that we do exceptionally well?  More importantly, what should we stop doing?

In positioning our research there are some aspects that we must factor.  These include, inter alia, how do we plan for impact?  How do we manage impact?  What is the potential for translational research?  What are the alignments to national priorities, the draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), the NDP, Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World in 2050, the Belmont Forum, Future Earth, etc.  Would Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics come into play? What about quantum computing?  Machine learning?  How would you be dealing with Big Data?  Do you have the capacity to deal with Big Data?  I leave you with these questions as you contemplate the future of your research during this Symposium.

Thirdly, over the next three years, the NRF has made the following investments in SANAP:

  • 29 grant holders:
    • 23 rated: 3A-rated, 6 B-rated, 2 P-rated, importantly 4 Y-rated
    • 16 female; 13 male
    • Currently, only 4 grant holders are Black which is an are that requires attention and intervention
  • There is growing evidence of young talent, especially black and female, moving up through the ranks. Many of SANAP’s early career researchers were students supported though this programme.  But it is not enough.  Much more needs to be done to bring in smart young students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and institutions.

Finally, I would like to focus on the numerous postgraduate students who are here today.  One of the most important aspects at the beginning of your research is its conceptualisation.  Read widely, and know the entire backdrop/canvas of your research.  Identify the gaps in knowledge and develop smart research questions/hypotheses.  Use the latest methodologies in your field to explore these research questions.  The information/data that you produce must be engaged with against the backdrop of existing knowledge.  What is the new knowledge that you have produced?  Production of new knowledge is the hallmark of a PhD degree and is immortalised through your scholarly publications or translational research.  Remember, it is often easier to choose a wife, husband or life partner than to choose a supervisor.  So choose smartly and wisely.  Good luck with your studies!

Despite the constrained fiscal environment, the NRF would continue to fund excellent, transformative research that enables SA to meaningfully contribute to the SDGs.

In conclusion, I would like to wish you every success in your research and thank you in advance for your contributions to society.

May you have a whale of a time in Hermanus!!

 

END

 

Posted by: Ria Olivier (Antarctic Legacy of South Africa), 21 August 2018