Every four years the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) holds its Scientific Assembly in a member country.
In 2013 the event took place in Merida, Mexico, while Sopron in Hungary provided the venue in 2009.
This year, the Joint IAPSOIAMAS- IAGA Assembly was held on African shores at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 27 August – 1 September. The wide range of ocean environments south of Africa that influence both the biota and climate conditions of the region provided an ideal scientific backdrop for the 2017 Joint Assembly.
Billed as a ‘super-conference’ and endorsed by the University of Cape Town and the South African Department of Science and Technology, the local event covered a very wide range of topics about Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (study of the upper atmosphere).
Young early career scientists and established researchers in oceanography, meteorology and geomagnetism formed the dynamic Local Organising Committee (LOC) that promoted Cape Town as the ideal 2017 location. Many of the committee members also serve on the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) – South Africa National Committee. A number of SANSA staff and students participated with poster and oral presentations.
• Prof Mike Kosch, who delivered a keynote address on space science from polar regions as well as a scientific presentation during the opening ceremony.
• Dr Pierre Cilliers, whose oral presentations focused on interpolation of surface impedance for GIC modelling and space weather applications of geomagnetic field measurements,
• Dr Pieter Kotze, with a presentation on the heliospheric magnetic field and solar wind behaviour during the solar cycle 23-2.
• Dr Stefan Lotz, who addressed extreme value analysis of geomagnetically induced electric field in South Africa in his presentation.
• Dr John Bosco Habarulema, who discussed the possiblecontribution of low latitudeelectrodynamics in launchingatmospheric gravity waves.
• A poster presentation by Michael Heyns, that dealt with an empirical approach to uncertainty in geomagnetically induced current (GIC) modelling.
All scientists registered at the event were, once again, encouraged to attend and participate in the "Conferences of Delegates" meetings that were convened for delegates to report on IAGA activities, consider IAGA resolutions and elect Executive Committee members.
With a number of prominent scientists and foreign students in the country, SANSA hosted two key events in Hermanus before and after the IAGA conference. The Third IAGA Winter School was hosted from 20-26 August and included 19 foreign students from Poland India, Czech, Egypt, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Hungary, Philippines, Brazil, UK, Portugal, Algeria and Japan, as well as five ICSU funded local students.
Students were introduced to various aspects of geomagnetism, from paleomagnetism to main field dynamics and external impacts such as the effects of solar activity. Afternoons were allotted to project work, where students worked in teams on projects presented by SANSA staff.
The projects focused on fluid theory studies of waves in space plasmas; building a software defined radio receiver antenna; analysing the eruption and propagation of coronal mass ejections from the Sun; and a satellite drag experiment involving a quadrocopter, tennis ball, potato gun and a few unfortunate spuds.
The INTERMAGNET workshop took place from 3-5 September, which included the InterMAGNET council meeting. “Attracting this prestigious event to local shores has certainly positioned South Africa as a relevant and desirable destination for events on the annual space research calendar,” says SANSA Chief Scientist, Prof Mike Kosch. “The success of the event means that we can only look forward to hosting many more similar events in years to come.”
WHY CAPE TOWN?
As an environmental gateway to the oceans south of Africa, Cape Town provided an ideal scientific destination for a conference on Earth system studies. This oceanic region is a crossroad for inter-ocean communication between the subtropical South Indian Ocean, South Atlantic gyres and cooler Southern Ocean waters. Evidence from modelling and observational studies indicate that the increased transport of warm water between the Indian and Atlantic oceans south of Africa influences local storms and rainfall over South Africa, while flooding from cut-off lows intensify when the southern.
Agulhas current is anomalously strong and warm. In addition, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the Karoo, the SALT and Meerkat facilities and national research facilities, such as SANSA’s Magnetic Observatory, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity and South African Environmental Observation Networks, were of interest to the delegates.