Invited Keynote Speakers


Prof Kathy Whaler (IUGG)
Vice-President, IUGG

Kathy Whaler has been Professor of Geophysics at the University of Edinburgh since 1994. Her main research interests are using permanent observatory and low Earth orbit satellite data to study the origin and maintenance of the Earth’s geomagnetic field, and electromagnetic induction as a probe of the structure and dynamics of the crust and upper mantle, particularly in rifting environments. She is formerly Vice-President and then President of IUGG’s International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy.

img1 Prof Michael Kosch (IAGA)
Chief Scientist – South African National Space Agency
Extraordinary Professor – University of Western Cape, South Africa
Professor of Experimental Space Science – Lancaster University, UK
Director – EnviroVision Solutions, South Africa

Michael Kosch achieved his BSc Electronic Engineering in 1984 and PhD in Space Physics in 1991 at University of Natal, Durban. 1985 he spent a winter at the SANAE Antarctic research station. 1991-2000 he worked at the Max-Planck Institute for Aeronomy in Germany. 2001-2013 he worked at Lancaster University in the UK, ending as faculty Research Dean. 2011 he became a Director of EnviroVision Solutions. He has held research fellowships in Australia, twice Japan, twice USA as well as many research visits to polar regions (e.g. South Pole station in 2016). Since 2014, he is the Chief Scientist at the South African National Space Agency space science division.

Polar regions provide an excellent opportunity to perform high-quality but relatively low-cost space science from the ground. The focus is on coherent and incoherent scatter radar, as well as multi-wavelength optical, observations of the ionosphere and thermosphere from Antarctica and the Arctic. Novel studies include (1) the phenomenon of black as well as anti-black auroras, which are quite distinct from the normal white auroras, (2) how thermospheric neutral winds are strongly influenced by the auroras, and (3) the wave-plasma interaction resonances associated with artificially-induced auroras.

Prof Mary Scholes (IAMAS)
Professor and Research Chair in Systems Analysis
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Prof Mary Scholes, a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand, is currently a full professor in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, where she holds a Research Chair in Systems Analysis. Her research activities focus on soil fertility, food security and biogeochemistry in savannas, plantation forests and croplands. Her research involves monitoring the impacts, on human health and the environment, of the new power stations in the Waterberg.

South Africa contributes significantly to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations due to the reliance on fossil fuel burning power stations for electricity. Sustainable development in South African involves a number of trade-offs between economic growth and the negative impacts on the environment and human health. Data will be presented on sulphur emissions from power stations and the associated nitrogen and sulphur deposition. Lichen distributions show a sensitivity to deposition, grasses are less sensitive than trees to additional nitrogen and sulphur applications. Water bodies and soils are not yet showing a declining trend in pH. There is a correlation between atmospheric pollution, socio-economic status and human health. A brief overview of the Sea-Earth-Atmosphere Linkages Study in Southern Africa will also be given.

Dr Essam Yassin Mohammed (IAPSO)
Senior Economist and Programme Lead, Ocean and Fisheries Economics 
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Eritrea

Former Head of Fisheries Promotion Unit at the Ministry of Fisheries of Eritrea. In addition to his academic and professional experience as Fisheries Scientist, he is an expert in economic valuation of the environment. In his capacity as senior economist, he works on a wide range of topics from economic valuation of environmental goods and services to influencing policy processes to promote fair, inclusive and sustainable economies both at national and global levels. Essam also leads IIED's work programme on Ocean and Fisheries Economics. Dr Mohammed is a member of a number of expert groups including: Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Modelling of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); and the Group of Experts for the second cycle of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects of the United Nations.

Marine and coastal ecosystems provide us with a range of critical services, from fishery production to flood protection, from recreation and tourism to ecosystem based adaptation and carbon storage. Yet pollution, overfishing, climate change and habitat destruction are rapidly degrading these ecosystems. Greater investment needs to be directed towards conserving, restoring and enhancing these ecosystems. Dr Mohammed will discuss the why and what of investing in marine and coastal ecosystems. He will also present some innovative financing mechanisms including: fiscal allocations (public), decentralized funds, impact investment (private) and public private partnerships.