Agrometeorology Discipline Hosts Eddy Covariance Workshop
The Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) recently held a two-day workshop on the Pietermaritzburg campus on eddy covariance (EC) in partnership with 37 representatives from a variety of institutions.
Institutions involved included the University of the Free State, the University of Pretoria, the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
The workshop, the first of its kind in the country, was held in response to the increased popularity of the EC technique internationally and locally and the total lack of EC training available in South Africa.
According to UKZN’s Senior Professor of Agrometeorology, Professor Michael Savage, EC is a micrometeorological method for measuring the exchange of water, carbon dioxide and methane between the earth’s surface and the overlying atmosphere. These three important greenhouse gases play a significant role in global warming. The EC method allows for the direct measurement of these exchanges.
Thirteen masters and PhD postgraduates from Hydrology and Agrometeorology were among those who attended. The School LAN ensured that each participant was able to install the relevant software and then, with guidance, analyse high frequency EC data.
Dr Colin Everson of SAEON gave a presentation on his EC experiences while Dr Alistair Clulow of the Agrometeorology discipline presented a laboratory session on gas analyser calibration. An Agrometeorology PhD postgraduate, Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa, presented a session on software templates.
Participants praised the excellent planning and quality of the workshop, lauding the interactive sessions and the clear understanding communicated by Savage and his team. Participants left the workshop saying that they felt they had been well equipped to apply the theories and practices of EC in their work.
Savage plays a role in mentoring young scientists, academics and practitioners in his field, and views the hosting of these types of workshops as part of achieving that aim. He arranged a similar workshop in 2016 on a different topic, and indicated that future workshops on topics of relevance and importance in his field were in the pipeline.
Words and photograph by: Christine Cuénod