NRF Climate Researcher Wins International Prize For Climate Research

NRF Climate Researcher Wins International Prize For Climate Research

Professor Mark New and his team at the University of Cape Town’s African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) has been awarded the prestigious Frontiers Planet Prize for a paper entitled Nature-based solutions in mountain catchments reduce impact of anthropogenic climate change on drought streamflow, published in Communications Earth & Environment. The other members of the winning team include researchers Petra Holden, Piotr Wolski, Romaric C Odoulami, Joyce Kimutai, Tiro Nkemelang, Kamoru A Lawal and collaborating researcher, Alanna Rebelo, from the Agricultural Research Council.

Prof New is the Pro-VC for Climate Change and Director of the African Climate & Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on climate change detection, processes, scenarios, impacts and adaptation. Prof New is a longstanding member of South Africa’s Change Science Committee, managed by the Knowledge Advancement and Support directorate of the National Research Foundation (NRF), and holds a B1 rating from the NRF. In addition, he holds a joint appointment as Professor of International Development at the University of East Anglia in the UK; is a member of the Africa Future Earth Science Committee; and serves on the editorial board of Environmental Research Letters.

Prof New served on the GCSC for around seven years (ending at the end of 2022) and was instrumental in many of its initiatives over that period including the planning and contextual focus of three Global Change Conferences; in giving invaluable input into numerous Global Change programme development processes; and, more recently, his comments and suggestions related to the DSI Decadal Plan were formative in relation to the Global Change (Sustainability, Climate Change, Transdisciplinarity etc.) aspects of the Plan. His involvement in and contributions to the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment Reports has been vital in improving the exposure of both context and content related to the Global South on the international stage.

Through his research, he has worked on the development of global and regional climate datasets which have underpinned climate impact assessments and integrated modelling; the detection of climate extremes; and issues around uncertainty and accuracy of climate data.

His research on impacts and adaptation has addressed broader adaptation policy issues around high-end climate change and dangerous climate impacts, approaches to adaptation decision making under uncertainty. Much of this work has been applied through the lens of water resource planning, such as in the EPSRC project he leads, ARCC-Water – Adaptive and Resilient Water Systems.

The Frontiers Planet Prize is a global competition where three prizes of 1 million Swiss Francs are awarded to scientists whose research contributes to helping humanity stay within the safe operating space of our Earth’s system. The prize aims to recognise, encourage, and reward exceptional scientists whose work contributes toward a sustainable planet.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is the National Representative Body for the Frontiers Planet Prize.

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