Department of Science & Technology
 National Research Foundation
All news

Global Change Conference at UKZN Features Vital Research into Changing Systems

November 30, 2016

At the upcoming 3rd biennial national Conference on Global Change, hosted by UKZN from the 5th to the 8th of December under the auspices of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Research Foundation (NRF), the host institution will have the opportunity to showcase some of its innovative, multidisciplinary and world-class research aimed at providing holistic solutions to very complex problems arising from changes in various earth systems.

‘We as an institution are encouraging our researchers to take a transdisciplinary approach towards solving some of these problems that affect our ability to pursue a sustainable future, or tackle those very ‘wicked’ problems of global change research,’ Said Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UKZN, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld. The conference will feature a range of research, coming from various disciplines including Marine Biology, Atmospheric Sciences, Hydrology, Geography, Ecology, Economics and Applied Poverty Reduction. Professor Emeritus Roland Schulze, renowned in water research in South Africa, will be presenting research done on the water-energy-food nexus.

‘When we wake up in the morning, we actually wake up in the future, and my research is looking at the future decisions about how we need to sustain our world in terms of water, in terms of food, in terms of energy, because everything that we plan at the moment is something that will come into fruition in the future,’ said Schulze. Atmospheric researchers in Physics at UKZN, led by Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, will be speaking about atmospheric and climate data that they have been measuring from Durban, including levels of air pollutants affecting the health of citizens, and are working towards improved tools to manage the environment and mitigate climate change.

Hydrological research presented ranges from investigations into changing wildfire patterns, to the development of satellite-based drought indices, land use impacts on water resources, models for assessing vegetative cover, improved rainfall estimations, and river flow and health. Marine biologists have been conducting research into coral health in intertidal pools in KZN, as well as essential indicators of the health of estuaries, highly sensitive, productive and important ecosystems under stress due to human action.

Ecological research ranges from the monitoring of freshwater resources, development of strategies to conserve vegetation under threat of climatic extinction, to the investigation of forest regeneration, and diversity of insect and grass species in grasslands. Geographers have been utilizing state-of-the-art geographic information system (GIS) and remote-sensing technologies to conduct important research including estimating urban surface temperatures.

There will also be research featured on health concerns like the spread of malaria under changing conditions, and how this could be modelled to control outbreaks.With global changes set to affect the poorest most severely, a group of social scientists have also been undertaking research into poverty reduction and climate change mitigation in communities at risk in local municipalities, including work on education and policy recommendations.

The Global Change Conference is part of the Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC), now in its 6th year of implementation. The GCGC is the foundation of encouraging production of new knowledge and information in South Africa to face key grand challenges, including understanding a changing planet, reducing the human footprint, adapting the way we live, and innovation for sustainability.

Christine Cuénod

Contact Webmaster | View the Promotion of Access to Information Act | View our Privacy Policy
© University of KwaZulu-Natal: All Rights Reserved