Researchers (right photograph) convened at the University of Cape Town in November in order to consider recent progress on a major collaborative project aimed at understanding the longer term climate and environmental dynamics around the southern African coastline. The workshop participants are all engaged in a major collaborative project between the Universities Bremen and Jena in Germany, and Cape Town, KwaZulu Natal and Witwatersrand in South Africa funded by the BMBF. Lead scientists include Dr Matthias Zabel at the University of Bremen, Professor Roland Mäusbacher and Dr Torsten Haberzettl from Friederich Schiller University of Jena and Professors Mike Meadows and John Compton at UCT.
|Researchers from the RAIN (Regional Archives for Integrated iNvestigations) Workshop.|
The RAIN (Regional Archives for Integrated iNvestigations) research, with funding of around Euro 1.7m over three years, is aimed at revealing details about how climate and associated environmental conditions have changed during the late Quaternary, a period spanning the last glacial-interglacial cycle and one which has witnessed major shifts in climate, sea level and human activity.
RAIN is dealing with both terrestrial and marine sediments, micropalaeontology and organic biomarkers and includes a strong focus on capacity building in both southern Africa and Germany. The research involves sampling terrestrial and marine sedimentary records of environmental changes at three major localities around the southern African coastline representing the summer, winter and all-year rainfall regions of the country and applying a wide range of physical, chemical and biological analyses in order to reveal details about the longer-term dynamics of climate and associated environments in this important region. The first phase of terrestrial sediment sampling was recently completed in and the Wilderness region of the southern Cape. Coring technology and a purpose built floating platform (bottom photograph) were shipped out to South Africa and the investigation team spent three weeks sampling sediments from various lakes.
|The investigation team sampling sediments.|
The initial results are extremely promising; the team was able to obtain a 30.5m core (a record for the equipment used) from Eilandvlei and, together with other material from Swartvlei, Langvlei, Groenvlei and Vankervelsvlei, more than 75m of sediments are now back in the Department of Physical Geography laboratory in Jena awaiting sub-sampling and analyses. Core bottom material has been dispatched for radiocarbon dating to provide the scientists with an approximation of the age of the deposits before further sampling is conducted.
Postdoctoral scientists from the Department of Environmental & Geographical Science at UCT will travel to Jena in January to sub-sample the cores for pollen and diatom analyses, while a wide range of organic and inorganic sediment analyses will be carried out in Germany.
The first marine sediment sampling leg will be conducted in December 2014 by German and South African scientists aboard the German research vessel RV Meteor. The whole operation moves up the west coast in 2014 for further sediment sampling focused on Verlorenvlei.