Home » RISA Directorates » Funding » Earth Systems Science Research Programme (ESSRP) - 2019
Opening Date: 
Tuesday, 21 August, 2018
Closing Date: 
Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Global change is universally recognised as a complex challenge to the well-being of societies and the environment. The development and spread of technology seeking to advance socio-economic development now affects the fundamental functioning of this planet. The consequences and implications are, however, hard to predict. The observed impacts on the global climate and the biosphere are wide-ranging and has adverse effects on socio-economic well-being. Environmental change, driven by both natural and socio-economic drivers of change, is also undermining the resilience of the natural world, and reducing its capacity to support human quality of life. These impacts are often felt by the poorest in society, with emerging, developing and least developed economies most vulnerable.

Global change is therefore a significant risk to the developing world. The majority of the science being done to understand it however is done in the developed world, and in the Northern Hemisphere. As a result, several global-change related questions of critical importance to emerging and developing economies in the southern hemisphere are not adequately addressed. ESS provides an appropriate framework within which scientific work can be done to provide urgently needed understanding on the biophysical aspects of global change as well as an effective and exciting platform to encourage the youth to train for careers in science and technology.

South Africa also has a particular set of strategic advantages as a geographical base for an Earth System Science Research Programme (ESSRP). These include its geographical position at the southern tip of the African continent with globally important ocean interactions and strong tropical-extratropical regional interactions that drive rainfall and temperature patterns over the country (See Figure 1), strong climatic gradients that underpin its ecology and agricultural economy, extraordinary biodiversity both marine and terrestrial, diverse vegetation structure and faunal composition that is both representative of Africa as a whole, but also unique in Africa, large protected areas conserving the last of the world’s major mammal assemblages providing key insights into the ecology of systems before mass extinctions and the rise of the Anthropocene, and an emerging economy in transitions of various kinds. South Africa is also subject to the early impacts of global climate change that appear to be interacting with natural long term climate variability that has been an historical feature impinging upon this region. Equally important is that South Africa boasts world class research and academic institutions that have made significant contribution to advancing our understanding of the earth system. Taken together, these features offer almost unparalleled opportunities for contributing to knowledge advances in ESS that will be beneficial both nationally and internationally. More details of the programme and call are provided in the Framework Document and Application Guide 2019.

Call activities and timeline

Applications must be submitted electronically on the NRF Online Submission System at https://nrfsubmission.nrf.ac.za.

The key activities and timelines are outlined below.

CALL OPENS:     20 August 2018

CALL CLOSES:   26 September 2018

All applications must be endorsed by the research office of the principal applicant. Institutions must set their own internal closing date for DAs to validate applications by the closing date.

NRF Contact Persons:
Jonathan Diederiks
Director: Global Change (Knowledge Advancement & Support)
E-mail: jonathan.diederiks@nrf.ac.za
Tel: (012) 481 - 4104


James Meiring
Director: Reviews and Evaluation
E-mail: james.meiring@nrf.ac.za
Tel: (012) 481- 4216