Science on the move
The theme of this year’s SciFest Africa is ‘science on the move’ and this issue of Quest certainly reflects this. This bumper issue covers a small fraction of the exciting research that is going on in the Southern Ocean, on the sub-Antarctic islands and on the Antarctic continent itself.
Understanding the dymanics – physical and biological – of the world’s oceans is vital to understanding the planet as a whole. This is particularly true when we consider our changing climate and the long-term effects that this will have on us all. Much of this research depends on our new oceanographic research ship, the SA Agulhas II, which was commissioned last year. This state-of-the art vessel will make a big difference to South Africa’s position in research on the vast and dynamic Southern Ocean. Because the bulk of the planet’s land mass is in the northern hemisphere, the Southern Ocean is particularly important to the southern hemisphere – unimpeded by land masses, the currents are circumpolar – with all the implications that this has for movement of water, water temperatures and salinity and the effects of these factors on the living components of the ocean and on our climate.
The research that is taking place in this region is fast moving – often dependent on new technology – and comprehensive, from physical oceanography to Antarctic biology. The opportunities for study and future careers are almost endless – encompassing a wide range of skills and backgrounds. At the core of all these potential careers is a thorough understanding of science and this starts at school. This issue of Quest is intended to excite your interest in science and show you just how far science can take you – truly ‘science on the move’.