Prof. Francois Engelbrecht


The first African-based earth system model

Prof. Francois Engelbrecht
Engelbrecht leads the climate studies, modelling and environmental health research group at the CSIR. He obtained a PhD in meteorology (2006) at the University of Pretoria, and specialises in the fields of numerical climate model development and regional climate modelling. Engelbrecht currently leads the development of the first African-based Earth system model in collaboration with national and international partners. He is an extraordinary associate professor at North-West University and an honorary research associate of the University of the Witwatersrand. Engelbrecht also serves as an invited member of the Working Group on Numerical Experimentation of the World Climate Research Programme.

About the talk: Climate change is the most serious collective environmental challenge ever faced by humankind. It is a problem with global reach, but the research effort to address it is disproportionately concentrated in the northern hemisphere and in developed countries. However, southern hemisphere and African climate issues differ from those that drive the research and modelling efforts in the north. In particular, oceans dominate the southern hemisphere and the land is largely occupied by semi-arid systems and tropical forests.

The CSIR has in recent years embarked on the development of the first African-based Earth system model. This multidisciplinary effort is driven by CSIR experts in global change research in close collaboration with key international partners in Australia, Japan and France.

Engelbrecht’s presentation will showcase the progress made towards the development of the new model, called the Variable-resolution Earth System Model. He will present recently obtained simulations of this model, within the context of the five main thrusts of the model development effort: the simulation of convective rainfall over Africa, aerosol-climate feedbacks over Africa, dynamic land-surface modelling, ocean-atmosphere feedbacks and Southern Ocean biochemistry and its coupling to ocean dynamics and physics. Engelbrecht will demonstrate that the research team is well positioned to use the model to make the first African-based contributions to the assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emphasising the key role of the Centre for High Performance Computing in providing computational capacity.

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