UKZN Scientist New President of SA Society for Atmospheric SciencesGeneral

Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman (fourth left) with fellow SASA council members.Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman (fourth left) with fellow SASA council members.

UKZN’s Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman was elected President of the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences (SASAS) during the society’s 2016 conference in Cape Town.

Venkataraman, who will hold office for a minimum of two years, was also a presenter at the conference, as was his masters student, Ms Priyanka Singh, who spoke on the topic of: “Comparison between Aerosol Optical Depth Acquired from Sun Photometer and MODIS Satellite over Durban”.  The presentation was about the detailed measurement of aerosol loads using the UKZN sun photometer (part of AERONET).

Also presenting was Post-doctoral Research Fellow Dr Ruchith Ramakrishna Devaki, who spoke on: “Influence of Aerosol-Cloud Interaction on Austral Summer Precipitation over Southern Africa During El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Events”.

Professor Michael Savage of the Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) gave a lecture as the 2016 recipient of the inaugural SASAS medal in recognition of his research and educational and technical achievements in a field related to atmospheric science.

Savage discussed: “Open Water Evaporation quo vadis?”, concerning how evaporation estimation was still a challenge for the atmospheric, agricultural and environmental sciences, particularly in the face of climate change. He reviewed various methods allowing evaporation to be measured or estimated routinely with reliable accuracy and precision, including remote sensing modelling methods. He also presented an application of the MoninObukhov Similarity Theory (MOST) to open water evaporation and the impact of climate change for differing scenarios using a long-term dataset.

Venkataraman has an Atmospheric Research Group (ATMRES) at UKZN, where he, along with students and colleagues, dedicates time and energy to monitoring the aerosol burden, influenced by land use change and human activity, in the skies of Durban and surrounding areas. Recognising the importance of collaborative research for atmospheric and climatic research in the context of global change, the group collaborates with researchers throughout southern Africa, Réunion, and France, among other countries. The group’s work is contributing to the characterisation of anthropogenic regional factors and their relative climatic impact for climate modelling to enable efficient environmental management and climate change mitigation.

Christine Cuénod