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Grasslands-Forests-Wetlands Science Framework

South Africa’s water resources are scarce. The hydrological cycle and multiple parameters in earth systems processes interact and there is uncertainty regarding what this means for water security in South Africa. The feedbacks and tipping points in these interactions are not well understood, particularly in relation to land cover and management changes and associated biological processes. Our platforms are designed to address these uncertainties so that management and land use is appropriate and sustainable.

The GFW observation platform is being design with the following aims:

1)  To detect anthropogenic climate change in relation to the hydrological cycle at regional scales. This requires disentangling anthropogenic forcing from natural variability by looking at long term data sets and building on this moving forward to detect directional trends.

2)  Enhance process level understanding of the interactions moderating climate change impacts and land use impacts on the hydrological cycle at relevant local scales. This includes observation around biodiversity, fire, carbon, energy, land use and soils processes.

3)  Observe the interaction between human induced climate change and land use change on process level responses at regionally relevant scales.

By having the hydrological cycle as a key theme, the GFW node aims to provide policy makers with timeous information regarding the security of South Africa’s water supply.  In addition, to inform relevant parties regarding predicted shifts in biodiversity and the effects thereof on the hydrological cycle.  To achieve this we are focusing on two core sites: one being a relatively pristine high altitude first order catchments (Cathedral peak) to facilitate climate change detection studies, and the other being  low altitude estuarine site (iSimangaliso Wetland Park), impacted by upper catchment land use practices and management interventions. The GFW science plan is still in development. We are working towards stakeholder engagements to formalise a documented long term science plan that is relevant, robust and delivers reliable infrastructure and data products to stakeholders that will advance global change science understanding.

Grasslands-Forests-Wetlands Science Framework
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