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Enhancing Science Partnerships for Innovation and Sustainable Development


Event calendar for the month: August 2017

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Ambassador for the Year of Science

Science Network


Researching the ocean and the polar regions brings scientists closer together

Research vessel "Polarstern" (c) AWI

The Year of Science’s key subject "climate change" was the focus of several events held at the end of November and start of December in South Africa: representatives from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) had the opportunity to visit two research vessels during their trip to South Africa.

The Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz-Association (AWI), Prof. Karin Lochte, arranged a tour of the German research vessel Polarstern in Cape Town harbour. At the invitation of the South African partners, the German delegation also visited the Agulhas II research icebreaker of the Republic of South Africa, which has only been in service for a few months.

The German Polarstern research vessel celebrated her 30th anniversary on 9 December 2012. The Polarstern is at sea almost 310 days a year. Between November and March she usually travels around the Antarctic and spends the northern summer months in Arctic waters, stopping over in Cape Town in November. Prof. Karin Lochte from the AWI and 100 German and South African guests from the fields of research and politics attended the reception held on board the Polarstern on 29 November to celebrate the vessel’s 30 years of service.
The Polarstern was designed especially for work in polar waters and is currently one of the most highly productive polar research vessels in the world. The tender for the construction of a new Polarstern is currently in preparation and the German government plans to present the successor vessel, Polarstern II, to science at the end of 2018.

The "ambassador" of the German-South African Year of Science, Motshegetsi "Motsi" Mabuse, also paid the research vessel a visit. At the opening of the reception, the German Ambassador, Dr Horst Freitag, presented the Neville Alexander Memorial Fund dedicated to Professor Neville Alexander, a companion of Nelson Mandela.

German and South African science does not only share key topics when it comes to marine and polar research: the kick-off workshop of the so-called SPACES programme was a further highlight, at which the Deputy Director General, Mr Thomas Auf der Heyde, for international cooperation from the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the German Consul General, Roland Herrmann, both gave welcoming speeches. The programme, whose full title is "Science Partnerships for the Assessment of Complex Earth System Processes", is aimed at scientific cooperation between Germany and South Africa in geological and climate research. The planned SPACES projects were presented at the kick-off workshop at the University of Cape Town. In her presentation, Andrea Heyn from the BMBF department "System Earth" presented the prospects of the German-South African Global Change research within the framework of the BMBF programme "FONA/Forschung für Nachhaltigkeit" (research for sustainability).

An event hosted by renowned marine researchers held in Cape Town at the beginning of December 2012 generated new impetus for cooperation in marine research: the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS) and the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT) held a joint three-day workshop. Together with colleagues from Norway and France, around 70 participants from ten South African and ten German research institutes and universities discussed new research topics focusing on the coastal and shelf areas in South Africa.


German TV reports about Polarstern: