EMSAfrica is a collaborative research project between South Africa and Germany. We bring together different scientific disciplines and approaches to understand the impacts of land-use and climate change on the structure and function of South African terrestrial ecosystems. The data and products are used to develop and test models and produce information relevant to ecosystem management in the region.
Southern African ecosystems are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Apart from increasing temperatures, the area is experiencing changes in rainfall patterns, increased frequency of extreme weather phenomena and fire occurrence. Increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere affect the interactions between different plant groups. These changes will reflect into entire communities and ecosystems, as well as their carbon dynamics. At the same time, most ecosystems are under strong human impact through livestock grazing, fuelwood collection, cultivation, urbanization and the spreading of invasive alien species.
The climate-management interactions are complex and understanding them requires a scientific approach that combines several disciplines and observations at a range of scales. We have established six core research sites along an aridity gradient in South Africa, representing paired comparisons of different intensities of land use. On these sites, we conduct observations at a range of different scales, from ecophysiological experiments to land-atmosphere carbon exchange and remote sensing.
The EMSAfrica consortium benefits from the expertise of five German partner institutions and ten Southern African collaborators. EMSAfrica is funded by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) and managed by the PT-DLR, via the programme SPACES (Science Partnerships for the Adaptation/Adjustment to Complex Earth System Processes in Southern Africa) under the FONA (Research for Sustainable Development) framework. We acknowledge the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) for additional funding.