School of Chemistry & Physics

Exploring Interactions Between the Atmosphere and Ocean

Exploring Interactions Between the Atmosphere and Ocean

The South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences (SASAS) recently held its 34th annual two-day conference at the La Montagne in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, using the unique locale to contribute to discussions of its theme of interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean.

Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, leader of the Atmospheric Research Group (ATMRES) in the School of Chemistry and Physics (SCP) at UKZN played a key role in planning the event.

He said the goal of SASAS was to promote and develop atmospheric sciences in a broader context across South Africa, including topics related to atmospheric structure and dynamics, meteorology, agro-meteorology, climatology, air quality and information, hydrology, various levels of atmospheric interactions, remote sensing instruments, numerical modelling and oceanography.

About 75 experts, researchers and practitioners were present including students and young researchers.

Venkataraman said the students and young researchers would play a major role in the future of atmospheric science research.

International delegates from Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia also attended the conference.

More than 20 students presented in oral and poster categories, and the themes presented on included: the atmosphere-ocean interaction, atmospheric dynamics, weather extreme and forecasts, aerosols and air pollution, weather forecasting and modelling, aerosol, ozone and solar radiation, weather and climate, long term change and climate trends, climate and rainfall, and climate and environment/social impacts.

UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath emphasised how the conference aligned with the University’s strategy and goal to situate itself as the Premier University of African Scholarship.

Three keynote and invited speakers shared a wealth of knowledge with the delegates.

Professor Mathieu Rouault from the Marine Research Institute at the University of Cape Town spoke about the impact of ocean atmosphere interaction on Southern Africa, while Professor Hassan Bencherif from the Université de La Réunion spoke about studies on troposphere-stratosphere interactions in the southern tropics in the framework of the France-South ARSAIO programme.

UKZN’s Professor Sreekantha Jonnalagadda spoke about the ozone, addressing its properties, the depletion of the ozone, protocols in place to protect it and its role in climate change and global warming.

Jonnalagadda specifically spoke about the scope and role of ozone as a tool in various chemical conversions, catalysed and photo-catalysed advanced oxidation processes in treatment of palatable and wastewaters.

The peer-reviewed conference proceedings published as a result of these conferences have, said Venkataraman, improved the quality of the research produced by the South African atmospheric science community.

In the run-up to the event, ATMRES also hosted a four-day student training workshop that focused on mathematical tools and software applied to atmospheric science. Twenty-eight students participated in the workshop, which was sponsored by the Africa Laser Centre (ALC).

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied by Sivakumar Venkataraman