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Building capacity in greenhouse gas measurement techniques in South Africa

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Thünen-AK organised a week-long Winter School in Eddy Covariance Flux Measurements during 10.-14.6.2019 at the Vuwani Science Resource Centre of the University of Venda in Limpopo, South Africa.

A photo of the Winter School participants with the teachers and hosts from the University of Venda (© Thünen-Institut/Mari Bieri)

Thünen-AK organised a week-long Winter School in Eddy Covariance Flux Measurements during 10.-14.6.2019 at the Vuwani Science Resource Centre of the University of Venda in Limpopo, South Africa. This course was linked to two projects coordinated from our institute, EMSAfrica (Ecosystem Management Support for Climate Change in southern Africa) and SEACRIFOG (Supporting EU-African Cooperation on Research Infrastructures for Food Security and Greenhouse Gas Observations). The EMSAfrica project and its predecessor project ARS AfricaE have set up three new Eddy Covariance flux towers in South Africa, monitoring the exchange of carbon dioxide between land and atmosphere. One of these towers is located in Vuwani, at the site where the Winter School was organised.

The course offered lectures on greenhouse gas monitoring in Africa, with particular focus in southern Africa. In addition, a series of intensive technical hands-on sessions were organised on setting up an Eddy Covariance system, processing and quality-checking the data, and plotting the results with the R programming language. In addition, hands-on sessions were offered on the soil chamber technique and setting up and maintaining an automatic weather station. Thünen-AK engineers were involved in intensive practical training of young local trainees at the tower site.

The aims of the course were to strengthen the technical knowledge of young researchers and technicians in greenhouse gas measurement techniques, take better use of existing data, and initiate new projects in the area.

The course was attended by 20 participants from southern African countries. Their participation was supported by the BMBF via the PT-DLR and the EU Horizon 2020 programme via SASSCAL.

The Eddy Covariance Flux Measurements Winter School marks the first in a series of courses for EMSAfrica and other SPACES projects during the next three years in an Integrated Training and Knowledge Exchange Programme on the Adaptation to Complex Earth Systems Processes, also coordinated by the Thünen-AK (for more information contact Mari Bieri, mari.bieri@  thuenen.de).