top of page

Please send any news items to  Mathieu.Rouault at This includes new job, graduations, new papers, newborns, news from overseas member or former members, SASAS history, new web sites, new projects, promotions, trip overseas, field trips, experiment: We will do a web newsletter every  few months if we get enough news.

Christina Thaele was awarded the prestigious 2022 SSAG Master's Bronze Medal for her MSc entitled "Characteristics of warm season supercell thunderstorms over the Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provinces of South Africa". The Bronze Medal is awarded to the best geography MSc completed by research dissertation within a given year in South Africa. In the dissertation Christine provides a radar climatology of supercell thunderstorms over the highveld of South Africa, a first study of this kind to be undertaken in South Africa. She also provides a step by step guide on how to identify supercell thunderstorms on radar and has already disseminated this information to South African weather forecasters in a workshop held at the University of Pretoria. Listing the dates on which supercell thundershowers occurred now opens the door for numerous further research opportunities. She conducted this research under the guidance of Prof Liesl Dyson and Mr Erik Becker from Centre for Climate Research Singapore.


The SASAS Conference will be hosted by the Global Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand from 30/10/2022 to 01/11/2022. Find conference info here and SASAS extended abstract template here


Dr Mary-Jane Bopape, our former president was attributed the Most Distinguished Women Change Makers In Africa award by Humanitarian Awards Global


"Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women" - Maya Angelou. Celebrating successful women in several fields sends a message to young girls that they can be anything they want to be. This is especially crucial in encouraging girls to dream big, as this encourages girls to become confident women in Africa and the globe at large.


Humanitarian Awards Global (HAG) believes that now is the time to recognise African women who are excelling in a multitude of fields and industries. These are women who have broken new ground in fields such as humanitarianism, entertainment, politics, business, finance, and science to create a new narrative.


Early Breakfast' host Africa Melane from radio CapeTalk chats to climatology professor and SASAS President, Francois Engelbrecht. Listen to the interview here

  • The weather system that resulted in extreme rainfall over KZN is known as the cut-off low pressure system.

  • Climatology professor, Francois Engelbrecht, says cut-off lows are common in SA and increasing in frequency.

  • According to Engelbrecht, extreme rainfall events have been taking place more often in the last few decades, citing global warming.

As part of the EURO-FRIEND project 3 on "Large Scale Variations in Hydrological Characteristics", Bastien Dieppois will be running a workshop between April and December 2022. Once a month, He will be proposing either a seminar or training on the use of new datasets, methodologies, or new results in the field. These seminars/training will be open to everyone and will be free of charge. We hope that this initiative can encourage more early-career scientists to join our initiative and enhance the collaboration between the FRIEND community across the world.  The EURO-FRIEND project 3 workshop/training series started today, with our first session "What is needed to bridge the data knowledge gap in Hydrology" from Dr S. Dietrich (ICWRGC/UNESCO, Germany).

We will soon share a link to this presentation.


We are now pleased to announce the schedule of sessions 2 and 3: Please Contact Bastien Dieppois  bastien.dieppois at


Session 2 "Improving Reproducibility and Efficiency - Use Cases of R in Hydrology" by T. Recknagel (GRDC/BfG, Germany) on May 11th, 2022 (2pm UTC). More info and registration at:


Session 3 "Climate analysis in R" by Dr. R. Benestad (NMI, Norway) on June 8th, 2022 (1.30pm UTC). More info and registration click at:

Dr Mary-Jane Bopape is the Senior Research Manager in charge of research at the South African Weather Service. She is among the few women meteorologists in Africa. She made the list of the most influential people in Africa. Read the full story here. Mary-Jane is the former President of SASAS. She is also part of a handful of atmospheric scientists in the world who understand the equations that rules our weather and climate and who can write a model from scratch. A true modeler among other skills and a long time member of SASAS

The new CLIVAR newsletter is out check it here. We also recommend the more dedicated Clivar Exchange publication. Subscibe to CLIVAR bulletin here

Equally interesting is the new CSAG newsletter available here

The 2021 SASAS Conference was held online on the 18th and 19th of November 2021. Find program here and find book of abstracts here. It was organized by Prof Liesl Dyson with help from MSc student Brian Nkala. Two honorary members were approved during the AGM:


Gert Johannes Rudolph Coetzee (CV here) and Gerhard Held (CV here)

The winner of the best student presentation were:


First prize: Greg Landwehr, Maximum Energy Producing Synoptic Weather Types of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province


Second prize: Henno Havenga, Severe convective storms characteristics under varied urbanization scenarios


I still want to be positive and make a prediction that we will see, at the end of this meeting, the most powerful pact we’ve ever seen in terms of climate action,” said Francois Engelbrecht, professor of climatology at the Global Change Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand and long time SASAS member in his interview by the Mail and Guardian. read the full article here. Francois added “We are all nervous to see to what extent the US and China will be able to collaborate on these key issues but I think, especially over the last few weeks, the outlook of some success at this important COP has become more positive,” Engelbrecht said Southern Africa is a climate change hotspot, with the region already 2°C warmer than a century ago. Warming in the interior is occurring at about twice the global average rate. 

We are pleased to invite SASAS members to submit a short Abstract for the 2021 on-line conference to be held on the 18th and 19th of November 2021. Submit your Abstract at this link Closing date 22 October 2021


University of Pretoria senior lecturer and supervisor Dr Thando Ndara and Dr Michael Barnes.

From NEWS24: When University of Pretoria (UP) master's student Michael Barnes submitted his dissertation, he was taken aback when he got a PhD degree instead. So brilliant was Barnes' dissertation, that it was converted into a PhD and earned praise from an examiner at the University of Oxford in the UK. Barnes, a meteorologist at the SA Weather Service in Cape Town, graduated in September.  His examiners recommended that he apply for an upgrade and he ultimately got the nod. But he says he was still shocked as he never expected that his master's thesis would actually be converted into a PhD. "I couldn't believe it. Imagine preparing work for your master's and you end up with a title of doctor at graduation? My supervisors were quite happy." His thesis focused on atmospheric dynamics. "I studied the dynamics of upper-tropospheric weather systems called cut-off lows. The study analyzed the properties of these weather systems that extend all the way to the surface compared to those that do not."  Barnes said he already had published papers in renowned journals by the time he submitted his dissertation - one of the reasons why he earned a PhD. Regarding his future career plans, Barnes said he would see if any opportunities would arise. "Work is good here in Cape Town. I wasn't expecting a doctorate. So at this point, I am not about what lies ahead in my career. I will look into opportunities should they present themselves in the future." When he is not busy with his work, Barnes enjoys playing golf and spending time with his family.


Rebecca Garland SASAS member and Principal Researcher in the Climate and Air Quality Modelling Group at the CSIR, South Africa was feature in two articles of the Mail and Guardian and authored one for the Conversation. You can read those three interesting articles by clicking on their titles:  Sasol plant to be investigated for the air pollutionBeat the heat with cool zones, African countries need more air quality data, Otherwise Rebecca leads the air quality research in the group, which focuses on improving the understanding of air quality and atmospheric science in southern Africa. She is also Extraordinary Lecturer in the Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, at the University of Pretoria and as an Extraordinary Associate Professor in the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North West University, Potchefstroom.


A paper emerging from the research of agrometeorology graduate Dr Floyd Khosa, now a data scientist at Santam Insurance, received the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences (SASAS) Stanley Jackson Award for the best research paper in atmospheric sciences in South Africa in 2020. Named after the late Professor Stanley Jackson – an eminent meteorologist who established the University of the Witwatersrand’s school of climatology and meteorology, helped found SASAS, and focused his pioneering research on the circulation of the atmosphere over Southern Africa – the award recognises notable contributions to the atmospheric and oceanic sciences in South Africa. The accolade is presented for the best peer review paper published by A SASAS member within the two years before the conference. The result of research done for Khosa’s PhD at UKZN under the supervision of Professor Mike Savage, first SASAS medalist, the paper is titled: Evaluation of Modelled Actual Evapotranspiration Estimates from a Land Surface, Empirical and Satellite-Based Models Using in situ Observations from a South African Semi-Arid Savanna Ecosystem. It was published in the Agricultural and Forest Meteorology Journal while Khosa was a candidate researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Khosa graduated in April 2020 after completing his thesis on the topic of multi-model estimates of evapotranspiration and soil moisture in the context of climate change across South African landscapes. This paper dealt with models used to estimate evapotranspiration (ET) – the transfer of water vapour from a surface into the atmosphere. Khosa explained that ET played a vital role in the land-atmosphere interaction and in climate variability, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas. Precisely estimating ET is important in hydrological, water resource and climate modelling, so Khosa sought to evaluate the accuracy of eight ET data products derived from models that are used to achieve these estimates. Khosa’s research highlights that methods of estimating ET are inherently limited by targeting specific temporal and spatial scales, and by their own assumptions, errors and technical challenges. Tackling the limitations of ET modelling that are common worldwide, but even more constrained for semi-arid regions, Khosa made inroads into evaluating ET models for semi-arid ecosystems. His aim was to establish if the models can be used reliably to simulate local and regional ET conditions in Africa, comparing the models’ ET estimates with in situ data acquired from a flux tower in the Kruger National Park. He found that all models assessed overestimate ET during summer and underestimate it in winter, and concluded that satellite-derived model ET outputs have the potential to aid understanding of ET’s spatiotemporal variability across different landscapes, and said that process-based models could be used for climate change impact studies on ET. He also suggested that future studies could assess the models within even more African biomes and savanna types to evaluate their accuracy. The paper was co-authored with Dr Gregor Feig of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), Mrs Martina van der Merwe, Dr Mohau Mateyisi and Mr Azwitamisi Mudau of the CSIR, and Prof Savage. Words: Christine Cuénod

It is with sadness that we announce the passing away of Dave Proctor. He was one of the first South Africans to conduct lightning research in South Africa. Please find the obituary attached. We thank Gerhard Held for sharing this with us.

Abstract and registration is open for the 10th anniversary of the Nansen Tutu Centre for Marine Environment Research symposium to be held at the Breakwater lodge, situated at the waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa from 10 to 12 of March 2020. It will run in parallel with the Ocean Observation Panel for Climate meeting. The overall symposium theme is Ocean, weather and climate: Science at the service of society. Key topics will include operational oceanography; role of the ocean on climate and weather; regional marine ecosystem; air sea interaction, Southern Ocean, biogeochemistry and the CO2 cycle. There will be several invited talks already listed on tour web site. The Symposium is endorsed by CLIVAR. First 30 students to send an extended abstract will not pay registration fees. Postdoctoral fellow will pay a reduced fee too.

More info on the symposium web site


Eulogy at SASAS Annual Conference 2018

Dr Eugene Poolman, forecaster, scientist and career-long SASAS member passed away on 9 September 2018 due to complications after suffering bleeding on the brain at the end of December 2017. Dr Poolman started his career at the South African Weather Service (SAWS) as a weather forecaster in 1982, but excelled to become a manager in the Research Division of SAWS from 1991 to 2009. It was during this time that he completed his MSc in Meteorology, obtaining the degree from the University of Pretoria in 1993. He moved away from a managerial role and became the forecasting specialist on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) related activities as Chief Forecaster: DRR in 2009. While holding this position, Eugene obtained his PHD in Meteorology at the University of Pretoria in 2015. He continued to serve the South African Weather Service faithfully holding the position of Chief Forecaster: DRR up to his passing on 9 September 2018. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Dr Poolman presented a course where he brought the complex atmospheric equations to reality by giving examples of how these equations could be applied in practical forecasting. During these engagements, his passion for weather and weather forecasting made a great impression on the students. As lecturer, Eugene played an important role in the development of many meteorologists by shaping their knowledge in weather forecasting. His mentorship unquestionably contributed to the professional way in which the weather forecasters in SAWS perform today. Eugene was a focussed researcher. His approach was not only to engage in theoretical research, but especially to focus on impact research aimed at serving the South African public. This approach led to the ground-breaking work he did in developing a Flash Flood Guidance product for South Africa, which without doubt contributed in many cases to the prevention of property damage and the loss of life. During his Doctoral studies, his research in developing early warnings for flash floods contributed considerably to the advancement of SAWS towards a world-class meteorological entity geared at bringing solutions to the people of South Africa. Under the risks posed by climate change, Eugene’s achievements, contributions as well as the firm basis that he had laid will continue to play a major role in future adaptation and risk reduction initiatives. During his service at SAWS, Dr Poolman was a prominent member of numerous international teams including the Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) Technical Team of the WMO. He also made a significant contribution at a regional level by taking a leading role in the WMO Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (SWFDP). More recently, Dr Poolman, working with the National Weather Service (NWS) through the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), initiated a project and developed the Impact-Based Severe Weather Warning System for South Africa, which is currently underway. At a local level Dr Poolman also played a key role in representing SAWS at Disaster Management Advisory Forum meetings. And while all who knew him personally and professionally will miss him dearly, we’re comforted that his passion and drive for practical and applied meteorology are enduring and will continue to exemplify the very best in South African weather scientists. In his own way, Eugene was a giant in the development and application of meteorology in South Africa. May his soul rest in peace.

Nansen Tutu Center seminar serie no 1: Role of the Ocean on Southern African Rainfall:  0930 to 1200 Friday 2 of February 2018, Oceanography Department seminar room, University of Cape Town. Download program here

Atmospheric Remote Sensing Education and Training (ATM-RESET) is part of the UKZM-ATMRes ( intiation since 2013, and organizing the 3rd student's training workshop on “Atmospheric Remote Sensing using Ground and Space Borne techniques”.  The workshop is planned to run for 3 days during 03-05 October 2017, focussed to train the young researcher and students on various topics of Atmospheric remote sensing.   The workshop has been supported through ALC (African Laser Centre), NRF (national Research Foundation) and ICSU (International Council for Science).  There are 55 participants registered for it which includes about 38 of them as students from SA and Africa.  Currently the workshop is funded by National Research Foundation (NRF) on International Council for Scientific Union (ICSU) and Africa Laser Centre (ALC).  More details are available at

The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP), a multi-institutional postgraduate programme training graduates in astronomy, astrophysics and space science, was launched in the School of Chemistry and Physics.  The programme has been successfully run at the University of Cape Town (UCT) for a decade, and has now been introduced at UKZN and at North West University (NWU).  Funded by the Department of Science of Technology through the National Research Foundation (NRF), the programme is intended to develop human capital in what are scarce skills in the country.   A national curriculum approach for all the three units is foreseen, and may begin from 2018.  More details are in or

Natalie Burls (top center in photo) was awarded a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in Ocean Science. The 126 Research Fellows from oceanography, physics, and the other branches of science are chosen by the Sloan Foundation to “represent the most promising scientific researchers working today” whose “achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders.” Since 1955, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 43 Sloan Research Fellows, including ozone-hole pioneer Mario Molina and theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. The fellowship comes with a two-year, $60,000 stipend. Originally from South Africa, Natalie Burls came to Mason in January 2015 following a postdoctoral position at Yale University. Her research investigates how the ocean and atmosphere interact to determine climate. Her work looks at both today’s climate and climate over the past five million years. In addition to her research, she teaches courses in the AOES department, including the “Gen-Ed” class CLIM 102 Introduction to Global Climate Change Science (co-taught with Kathy Pegion). She is pictured here with Climate Dynamics PhD students in Great Falls Park. Natalie Burls Home Page

The 32nd Annual Conference of the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences (SASAS 2016) – “Innovation For Information” was hosted by the Climate System Analysis Group (University of Cape Town). The conference was held at the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Milnerton, Cape Town from the 31st October – 1st November.

SASAS presence was strong at the ICRC-CORDEX 2016 conference that took place on 17-20 May 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. Below Zane Dedekind (CSIR) to the left and and Chris Lennard to the right in the other, both SASAS members.


Stanley Jackson Award for best peer rewieved paper open


SASAS medal nomination open


Applications are open for the  Applied Ocean Sciences (AOS) Master of Science hosted by the Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re) at the University of Cape Town. The MSc degree in Applied Ocean Sciences aims to produce marine professionals with a strong academic foundation who are knowledgeable about the major topics in interdisciplinary ocean sciences.This course will provide academic and technical skills to deal with the most applied aspects of oceanography and marine biology. It is designed for both recent graduates as well as those with several years’ experience and who wish to work in the ocean services sector, with a focus on operational and conservation activities and other aspects of the Blue Economy. This is achieved by exposing the students to a range of disciplines, to provide them with the requisite skills to carry out research and to use the products of research. The course also reinforces essential skills such as scientific communication, numeracy and analytical thinking, and  demonstrates the ability to perform independent research through the project component.

DEADLINES for 2017 applicants:  International students: 31 August 2016,  South Africans: 30 September 2016

Download flyer:

For course details and how to apply:


Congratulation to Dr Asmerom Beraki and Dr Christien Engelbrecht for obtaining their PhD.  We have seen Asmerom and Christien growing their skill SASAS conference after SASAS Conference. They have also managed to publish their research in numerous international peer review Journal and they are also member of the SASAS committee. We want to extend our congratulation to their advisor Prof Willem Landman who recently joined University of Pretoria


Congratulation to Prof Bruce Hewitson for his recent NRF A rating. I believe it is the first time since Prof Lutjeharms 10 years ago that one of our members become A rated. A rated researcher is a researcher who is unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs. I also want to congratulate all CSAG members and students past and present who have contributed to Bruce International recognition.

bottom of page