Participants at the Surface Renewal Workshop in Pietermaritzburg.

Agrometeorology Provides In-Demand Surface Renewal Training

The Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) recently held a one-day workshop on surface renewal (SR) for 33 participants from various institutions.

The workshop, held on the Pietermaritzburg campus, was the first of its kind in the country and was precipitated by the increased popularity in the use of the SR technique internationally and locally and the complete lack of SR training in South Africa.

According to Professor Michael Savage, Senior Professor of Agrometeorology at UKZN, SR is a micrometeorological method for measuring the exchange of sensible heat flux between the earth’s surface and the overlying atmosphere. Together with other measurements, the SR method allows for the estimation of evaporation.

Participants came from the University of the Free State (UFS), University of Pretoria (UP), University of BotswanaSouth African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Honours, Master’s and PhD postgraduates from Hydrology and Agrometeorology at UKZN also attended.

The SAEES LAN facility where the workshop took place ensured that each participant was able to use the relevant software and then with guidance analyse SR data.

Comments from participants highlighted the excellent planning and quality of the workshop, lauding the interactive sessions and the clear understanding communicated by Savage and his team. Participants said that following the workshop, they felt they had been well equipped to apply the theories and practices of SR to 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 and one in 2017 on different topics. He indicated that future workshops on topics of relevance and importance in his field were also in the pipeline.

Words: Christine Cuénod and Michael Savage

Photograph: Ntokozo Dladla