This GEO Mountains workshop sought to better understand the current interdisciplinary 'data landscape' across the mountains of Africa.  

On 15 March, GEO Mountains hosted a workshop entitled Long-term monitoring activities and associated data availability for climate change-related applications across Africa’s mountains: status quo and next steps in a hybrid format at the Southern African Mountain Conference 2022.

The workshop was convened by the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), GEO Mountains, UNEP and SAEON, and formed part of the global Adaptation at Altitude programme.

Following words of welcome by the co-convenors James Thornton (GEO Mountains) and Essey Daniel (UNEP), Francois Engelbrecht (University of the Witwatersrand) presented the latest climate change projections for southern Africa, which show a strong likelihood of drying and warming, and emphasised the expected consequences of these changes in terms of elevated drought and fire risk, impacts on mountain top species, and the African cryosphere. The latest high-resolution, regional-scale climate models – which can better resolve mountain topography and convective events – were also introduced.

Susan van Rensburg (SAEON) then summarised several intensive, interdisciplinary, and long-term in situ monitoring activities that are being undertaken across the mountains of South Africa. SAEON’s new Data Portal and associated infrastructure, which will provide a means by which mountain datasets from across the entire continent can be made Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR), was introduced.  

Two virtual presentations were then given. First, Omar Seidu (Digital Earth Africa) presented the extensive efforts that are being undertaken by Digital Earth Africa. This initiative exploits the rapidly growing body of satellite Earth Observation data for sustainable development applications and develops associated training / capacity building resources.

Second, Patricia Nying'uro (Kenya Meteorological Department) gave an overview of national efforts to systematically monitor mountain climate as a basis for climate change mitigation and adaptation. In particular, two climate stations on Mt. Kenya were described. Amongst others, financial resources and lack of awareness at policy and legislative levels regarding the importance of mountains were identified as key barriers to improving the coverage of systematic observations in Kenya's mountain regions.

To conclude the first part of the workshop, James Thornton presented the capabilities of the GEO Mountains In Situ and General data inventories, the latter of which was released only a week prior to the event. Contributions were encouraged from the community to further maintain and enhance the African content in these resources.

In the second part of the day, in two groups (one online and one in person), participants discussed the following key questions:

1. In which regards (e.g. disciplines, sub-regions) can the “data landscape” currently be described as “good”?

2. What / where are the most critical data gaps with regards to monitoring, understanding, and better-predicting and managing the impacts of climate change?

3. What are the main challenges / barriers that are responsible for these data gaps (i.e., what prevents the more extensive collection / generation, sharing, and re-use of data)?

4. What are some potential solutions to address these challenges / barriers?

5. What functionality would data providers and users like inventories / portals through which data and other resources can be shared and accessed to possess? 

Finally, some preliminary results of the GEO Mountains Africa Data Survey were presented. The survey remains open, and everyone with experience of working in African mountains is warmly invited to complete it (whether they attended the session or not).

Looking ahead, on the basis of this engagement, GEO Mountains hopes to co-develop a pragmatic, medium-term “data agenda” to improve the situation with the workshop participants and regional partners.  

Submit to GEO Mountains In Situ Inventory

Submit to GEO Mountains General Inventory

For any questions about the workshop, survey, or inventories, please contact

SAMC22 4SAMC22SAMC22 2South African Environmental Observation Network

This workshop was the fifth in a series of regional consultations by GEO Mountains. More information about upcoming regional consultations will be available soon. 

Image by Sergey Pesterev.

supported by

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