By Alexa Brown, ACDI masters student, class of 2015
European Geosciences Union – Vienna, Austria | 18 – 22 April 2016
When you’re attending a conference 10 000km away that is 13 650 scientists strong and someone with an American accent quotes Bruce Hewitson’s “distillation paradigm” during a presentation, you realise some things:
1. Being South African is really awesome!
2. And then you realise that climate change research and work really is a global responsibility, and as South Africans we CAN and MUST make an assertive effort to get involved with the big players in the northern hemisphere (and developed countries) if we want to effect credible and sustainable development at home. I was blown away that a session convenor from Iowa State University (R. Arritt) mentioned Bruce Hewitson’s name and data distilling process at a session on Regional Climate Models and downscaling. I was shocked mostly because it was unexpected, and proud of the fact that I attended Bruce Hewitson’s ‘introduction to climate variability and predictability’ honours lectures. This lead me to realise something else:
3. At UCT we have such a brilliant and unique opportunity to be exposed to and get involved with some heavy weights in climate change research. Why wouldn’t Arritt be quoting a professor from South Africa? That’s brilliant! We need more of it, we need more students to recognise academic opportunity and take on the risks of getting their hands dirty with climate change and impact research. Then we need to get out there to spread the word
The exposure to an international arena on climate sciences was overwhelming at first and then inspiring (13 650 people from 109 countries). It was a pleasure attending sessions and talks at the European Geosciences General Assembly and seeing what other universities and academics are focusing on in their research. There was every type of geoscience topic to engorge your inner nerdy appetite. From astrophysics and NASA to deep earth exploration and mapping – it was all there in presentation, posters, interactive touch screen presentations and social receptions! My poster on an historical data comparison for Cape Town wind records was well received at the poster session held after a day full of similar themed presentations. I was able to connect with some key people who work with the same type of data from Australia, London and Southern Africa. I find this amazing considering the research dates back 200 years and here we are collaborating today.
The conference organizers did an amazing job to bring together 1000s of people of all cultures and research backgrounds in an open and creative space! The best thing about the conference for me was that it was all paper free! I encourage all students to work hard and make an effort to attend one of the international conferences for their own development.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity.