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20 July 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
The view from one of the offices in the Marion Island research station, with fresh snowfall in the interior of the island in the background.

Liezel Rudolph, lecturer and researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of the Free State (UFS), is strongly convinced that the Southern Hemisphere’s past glacial cycles will provide valuable insights to help predict and prepare for future climate change. Climate is changing fast and the magnitude of change we have seen over the last 30 years has taken a hundred or several hundred years to occur in the past. 

It is not only temperatures that are rising, but changes in wind patterns, rain cycles, oceanic circulation, etc., are also observed. As we do not know how the earth will respond or adapt to such rapid and drastic changes in climatic patterns, this poses various threats.

Link between landscape responses and climate change

Rudolph focuses her research on reconstructing the past climate of Marion Island. 

She had the wonderful opportunity to visit the island for the past three years with study and project leaders, Profs Werner Nel from the University of Fort Hare and David Hedding from UNISA, she departed on a ship to Marion Island to conduct fieldwork.They published their research findings of fieldwork conducted in 2017 and 2018.  

According to Rudolph, research in Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, and islands such as Marion Island is very important. South Africa is the only African country with research stations that have the ability to explore these regions.

“Marion Island has many landforms that could only have been created by glacial erosional or depositional processes, with glaciers currently absent from the island. To determine when the island was last in a full glacial period, we date the formation ages of these landforms.”

“In the short time we have been visiting the island, it was impossible to notice any drastic changes in the island climate. That is why we use these very old landforms to tell us more about periods before humans visited the island,” she says. 

Rudolph believes that understanding the link between landscape responses and climate change of the past can help to better predict some of the climate change processes that are currently threatening the planet.

“There’s a principle in geography called ‘uniformitarianism’, whereby we assume that the earth-surface processes we observe today, are the same as those that have been active in the past,” says Rudolph.

As scientists, they thus look at evidence of past geomorphic processes (which remain in the landscape in various forms, e.g. residual landforms, stratigraphic sequences, etc.) to piece together what the past climate was like. In the same way, they also use this principle to predict how certain earth processes will change in the future, along with climate changes.

“In return, we understand how the climate and the earth’s surface interact, and we can better predict how the earth will respond to climate change,” Rudolph adds. 

Society to play its part in climate change

In the long run, we as the public should play our part in readying society for the effects of climate change. 

Rudolph says society can play a positive role in terms of climate change by educating themselves with unbiased, scientifically sound information on the true state of climate change and by responding within their own spheres of influence.

“Don’t leave everything up to politicians and policy. As the public, you can start to make progress by assessing the effects that climate change may have on your industry, business or society, and strategise on how to adapt your processes to deal with these changes.”

“Be responsible with our natural resources, reduce your waste, support local businesses that are sustainable, and volunteer at a local environmental protection/clean-up organisation. All the small efforts will eventually add up to substantial change,” she says. 

News Archive

Kovsie Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year
2011-10-19

 

Thuso Mpuang en Gabisile Hlumbane
Foto: Leonie Bolleurs

KovsieSport honoured its top achievers at a glamorous gala dinner in the Centenary Complex on our Bloemfontein Campus on 13 October 2011.

The KovsieSportsman and KovsieSportswoman of the year were Thuso Mpuang and Gabisile Hlumbane respectively.

Gabisile is a member of the Banyana Banyana National Soccer Team. The team obtained a bronze medal at the African Women’s Championships during October 2010, a gold medal at the Unity Cup Hosted during December 2010, a silver medal at the COSAFA Women’s Championship hosted during July 2011 and qualified for the London Olympics in 2012.

Thuso represented South Africa during the World Athletic Championships in Deague, Korea. He obtained the silver medal in the 200m during the World Student Games in Shenzhen, China and a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100m relay team.

Pieter Rademan (rugby) and Karla Mostert (netball) were named as the Junior Sportman and Sportwoman of the year, respectively.

Other nominations for this year in the women’s category were:

  • Lesley Ann George (hockey) – Represented the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the series against China, Belgium and Azerbajan. She was also a member of the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the Champs Challenge in Ireland. The team finished fifth.
  • Nicole de Vries (hockey) – Represented the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the series against China, Belgium and Azerbajan. She was also a member of the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the Africa Cup in Bulawayo.  The team obtained a gold medal.
  • Hettie Oosthuizen (hockey) – Represented the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the series against China, Belgium and Azerbajan.
  • Izelle Lategan (hockey) – Represented the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the series against China, Belgium and Azerbajan.
  • Nicole Kemp (hockey) – Member of the Protea Women’s Hockey Team during the Africa Cup in Bulawayo. The team obtained a gold medal.
  • Nelmaré Loubser (triathlon) – Represented the SA Elite Team during the World Championships in Spain.
  • Janette Siebert (athletics) – Represented South Africa during the Southern Africa Championships in Maputo, Mozambique.
  • Elsabe le Roux (karate) – Member of Protea JKA Shotokan Karate team that participated in the Africa Zone 6 Championships in Maputo where she obtained a gold and silver medal.

Other nominations for this year in the men’s category were:

  • Boy Soke (athletics) - Represented South Africa during the Africa Cross Country Championships in Cape Town. He also represented South Africa during the World Cross Country Championships in China.
  • Boom Prinsloo (rugby) – He represented the Springboks in the HSBC Sevens World Series 2010 – 2011.
  • Bruno Schwalbach (karate) – Member of the Protea JKA Shotokan Karate team that participated in the Africa Zone 6 Championships in Maputo where he obtained two gold medals. He was also a member of the Protea JKA Shotokan Karate team that participated in the Common Wealth Karate Championship in Australia where he obtained one silver and two bronze medals. He was a member of the Protea JKA Shotokan Karate team that participated in the All Africa Games in Maputo Mozambique where he obtained a bronze medal.
  • Paul Rodrigues (squash) – He represented the South African U/ 23 team at the All Africa Squash Championships in Johannesburg.
  • Balungile Nchofe (karate) – He was a member of Protea JKA Shotokan Karate team that participated in the Africa Zone 6 Championship in Maputo where he obtained a gold medal.
     

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