Reflections on the Joint IAPSO-IAMAS-IAGA Assembly, Experiences in Cape Town

-Dr Peter Cook*

During the week of 28th August and 1st September 2017 I attended “Good Hope for Earth Sciences”, the Joint IAPSO-IAMAS-IAGA Assembly, in Cape Town IAPSO-IAMAS-IAGA- International Associations for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans, of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, and of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy). There was a large contingent from the University of Reading and also many researchers from Oxford University, the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey.

A very broad range of research areas were covered during the week with weather and climate from around the world, including a detailed look at Southern Africa.  From the Angola Low to the north bringing summer rain to the interior to the Agulhas Current bringing summer rain to the east and south coasts.  Also, the west winds bringing winter rain and storms to the west coast, and the serious drought presently affecting Cape Town and the west of South Africa due to the failure of the west rains for the third winter in a row.  Reading University Researchers Andrew Turner, Linda Hirons and Caroline Dunning organised the joint session “Future Climate for the African Continent”.  See Dr Cook’s Poster, Modelling changes in the West African Monsoon (2000 – 2100), presented at the Joint Assembly.

The Assembly was held in part of the enormous Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC).  Each day saw many parallel sessions in a large number of lecture rooms, and there were two large poster sessions on the Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the huge exhibition hall, where a good selection of lunches, snacks and drinks were provided during the breaks.

The opening ceremony on Monday afternoon included good talks by Professor Mary Scholes (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), Professor Michael Kosch (South African National Space Agency) and Dr Essam Yassin Mohammed (International Institute for Environment and Development, UK).  This was followed by African music and dance with a lot of audience participation, we were all provided with a drum and a plastic tube (of different lengths) to play which was great fun.  After this was the welcome function in the exhibition hall with a lot of different food provided.

The main dinner was on Wednesday evening at the large Gold Restaurant, where a great deal of very tasty South African food and wine was provided, and also African music and dance followed by a good band.  Coaches were provided to take us all back to our hotels.

Outside of the conference we visited Table Mountain (which dominates the Cape Town skyline), starting at 400m we hiked up the well made rocky path the remaining 600m (took us 2 hours) then explored the flat plateau and saw some hyraxes before getting lunch and the cable car back down.  I also took a tour to the Cape of Good Hope and a large penguin colony at Boulders Beach, seeing ostriches on the way.  On some evenings we had big dinners at one of the many restaurants on the large waterfront area (very popular with tourists) which also has craft fairs and a good aquarium.


The intrepid explorers, mostly from the Universities of Reading and East Anglia (photo from Professor Karen Hayward)



View of Table Mountain from the Park Inn hotel


Dr Cook (white hat) and team on the Plateau










The cable car to Table Mountain Plateau


Spotted!  A Hyrax on Table Mountain


An Ostrich near Cape Point


Penguins on Boulders Beach


Joint Assembly Hall, Drums and Tubes provided


Joint Assembly Opening Ceremony

* Dr Peter Cook is a NCAS-Research Scientists, based at the Meteorology Department at the University of Reading.  His research interests include

  • Surface heat fluxes and boundary layer turbulence
  • Cloud microphysics, dynamics and radiation interactions
  • Air pollution and Ozone chemistry
  • The atmospheres of other planets



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