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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Afromontane Research Unit makes climate change inroads
2017-10-28



Description: Prof Mukwada Tags: Prof Mukwada

Prof Geofrey Mukwada

The Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) has recently made inroads in climate-change research. This has been achieved through work published by Professor Geofrey Mukwada and Professor Desmond Manatsa, whose research could make it possible to predict El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) several months before its occurrence. 

Professor Manatsa is an ARU postdoctoral fellow currently collaborating with Professor Mukwada on an ongoing climate-change research project. The two experts noted that ENSO is one of the most important climate phenomena on earth, due to its ability to change the global atmospheric circulation, which in turn, influences temperature and precipitation across the world.

Climate change scientific breakthrough

“This is a tremendous breakthrough, because humanity as a whole has been looking for answers regarding the origins of climate-related hazards which are worsening, yet becoming more frequent and difficult to predict. In some cases, floods and droughts occur in the same season, and within the same geographical area. These extreme climate events are becoming more frequent, often leading to loss of life and threatening national economies and livelihoods,” said Professor Mukwada, coordinator of the ARU sub-theme on Living and Doing Business In Afromontane Environments.

During an interview with the Southern Times, Professor Manatsa revealed that the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is initiated and sustained in the tropical Pacific, a fact that has eluded climate scientists for years. “It was an unresolved puzzle which limited the successful prediction of ENSO events with reasonable lead time. Climate scientists were only able to know with some degree of certainty that the event would occur once it had started, just a few months before its impacts were felt,” Professor Manatsa said.

Prof Manatsa is upbeat that a lot of headway has now been made towards unravelling the mystery of ENSO’s origin. “The necessity of the inclusion of the solar energy changes due to ozone alterations in the upper atmosphere should significantly impact on the realistic version of ENSO in climate models. This in turn should not only provide more accurate ENSO forecasts for the region, but a longer lead time for users to prepare for the event,” he said.

ENSO is a climate phenomenon based in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Its events bring good rains and even floods over most parts of the world in some years and droughts in others, depending on whether the phenomenon is in a warm or cold phase. The warm phase is referred to as El Nino, when the waters over the tropical east Pacific are heated up, but when cooled, it is termed La Nina. La Nina was responsible for the favourable rains over much of Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, during the 2016/17 rainfall season. The El Nino occurrence a year before had devastating drought effects that was characterised by scorching heat and widespread water shortages. This work was published in a high-profile journal, Nature Scientific Reports

ARU is a flagship inter- and trans-disciplinary research programme focusing on the under-researched area of montane communities. It was launched in June 2015 and is based on the Qwaqwa Campus. 

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