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Gobabeb Research & Training Centre

Research Theme Leaders

Folke-Sören Olesen

Research Theme Leader: Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology

Folke Olesen studied at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitätzu Kiel (Germany) meteorology, physics and computer science; since 1984 he holds an MSc in Meteorology. Currently he is head of the research group “Meteorological Satellite Analysis” (MSA) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Meteorology (KIT) in the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK). Over the time he supervised 6 PhD students and about 18 MSc theses. In 2007 he started measuring meteorological parameter at Gobabeb (GBB).

Folke started his professional career in operational satellite receiving branch of DLR in Oberfpaffenhofen (Germany) in 1984, implementingthe operational atmospheric vertical sounding software (infrared and microwave data), display and handling of the data. His research group in KIT began with the evaluation of meteorological satellite data in 1987 after which he entered EUMETSAT’s Satellite Application Facility for Land Surface Analysis (LSA-SAF) with a focus on Land Surface Temperature (LST). Since then the validation of LST has been a central task of his research group. Validation stations were set up in Evora (Portugal), Dahra (Senegal), Gobabeb (Namibia) and Farm (Kalahari), covering most of the landscapes in the field of view of METEOSAT and typical climate conditions.

In the beginning of 2007 Folke visited Gobabeb for the first time and by the end of the same year, the validation instruments were set up. Meanwhile the measurements are completed with radiance balance data at the level of BSRN. In 2012 he took responsibility for Gobabeb “weather” in the function as theme co-ordinator of Atmospheric Science and Meteorology. He spends about 2 months per year in Namibia.

The latest big step forward in the meteorology of Gobabeb was the setup of nine brand new field stations in the SASSCAL -supported FogNet project, measuring all parameters that were measured in the past including precipitation and fog-yield, but this time with one minute resolution and real-time data transfer to GBB.

Duncan Mitchel

Research Theme Leader: Conservation Physiology


Ian Livingstone

Research Theme Leader: Dune Morphology


Gabi Schneider

Research Theme Leader: Geology

Specialised in Economic Geology, Gabi has been the Director of the Geological Survey of Namibia since 1996. She holds positions in various scientific, policy, industrial and governmental organisations. Through her involvement in a number of research projects she has developed a keen interest in multi-disciplinary research on Namib topics.


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Research Theme Leader: Long-Term Research

Since the first 'big rain' of over 100 mm was witnessed at Gobabeb in 1976, Mary has been interested in changes induced, whether they be beetle populations which vary from the 1000s on one slipface to none in the following years or vegetation cover on the dunes or plains. She is currently working on consolidating management of the on-going long-term measurements and encouraging others to begin.


Ed Rybicki

Research Theme Leader: Microbiology and Fungi


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Research Theme Leader: NERMU & Restoration Ecology

Ecological restoration is challenging at the best of times, but in the hyper-arid Namib, where uranium and iron mining occurs inside a protected area, it is made even worse by the lack of water, arid saline soils, and the high variability in frequency, duration and magnitude of rainfall events. Restoring any ecosystem when nutrients and water arrives in unpredictable pulses is not easy, and even the stable west coast fogs do not completely cancel out the lack of rain. The problem of ensuring successful restoration therefore requires careful thought, the appropriate management framework, a proper scientific approach to key issues, and a commitment to both learn and teach as we go along. This is the Research Theme Restoration Ecology's guiding principle and is what NERMU is about.


Sue Ringrose

Research Theme Leader: Soils and Geomorphology

Sue Ringrose is currently a geomorphology and soils associate for Gobabeb while being resident in Maun Botswana. Sue keeps in touch with GBB management frequently on a range of issues which pertain to the continuing development of geomorphological science at the Centre.

Dr Ringrose started her geomorphology career in Winnipeg, Manitoba where she obtained her graduate degrees in glacial geomorphology specifically in the area of coarse clastic sedimentology. After a brief teaching stint at the University of Winnipeg, Sue volunteered with CUSO to work in Sierra Leone where she taught geomorphology and research methods at the University of Sierra Leone's upcountry campus (Njala University College). In the 1970s she moved back to become an Aggregate Geologist specialising in mapping gravel deposits using remote sensing techniques with the Manitoba Mines Branch (Winnipeg) and later (in the 1980s) she became an Earth Science consultant in Ottawa. In 1983 the Canadian Aid agency (CIDA) sent Sue and 11 other colleagues to the University of Botswana where she introduced satellite remote sensing to the Environmental Science Department. In 1989 she travelled with a colleague from Gaborone to Scotland in a Toyata Hi-Lux working en route on a National Geographic project in the Sahelian countries before taking up a lecturing position in Australia. Sue returned to the University of Botswana in 1992 working in Environmental Science and the National Institute of Research before being transferred to the Harry Oppenheimer Okvango Research Centre in Maun in 2000. After working for over 12 years on the Okavango Delta and related issues, she retired as Director of the Centre in January 2012. She has published over 90 papers in international scientific journals mainly on environmental aspects in Botswana but also on the Sahel, Canada and Australia.

In March 2012 she was asked to helped co-ordinate geomorphology and soils projects at Gobabeb. She has since then engaged in a project on the Kuiseb river looking at the sediment distribution resulting from various flood events. Preliminary sample analysis is focussing on unique aspects of silts deposits and a paper is underway intended for publication in 2014. She has also assisted GBB by providing links to various arid climate oriented Universities and research groups. In September 2012 she was involved in the biannual SASQUA conference at GBB where she engaged participants to suggest ideas of promoting GBB as an geomorphology/earth science research centre. Emergent ideas include annual scientific desert meetings at the Centre which may start 2013. Sue is also engaged in proposal writing to help in institution building and staff training at GBB.


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Research Theme Leader: Water in Arid Environments


KJ in prairie

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Research Theme Leader: Microbiology and Fungi

Kathy Jacobson is a fungal biologist who teaches in the Biology Department at Grinnell College - a four-year liberal arts undergraduate institution in Iowa, U.S.A. All faculty members in the Biology Department teach the introductory course (Introduction to Biological Inquiry) on subject matter of their choosing, because the goal of the course is to expose students to learning by doing experimental science. Kathy's Introduction to Biological Inquiry is entitled "The effects of climate change on organisms". In addition to a 200-level course in Evolution & Ecology, she also teach an upper-level level elective course in Fungal Biology. Recently she also taught a course on Namib Ecology, which involved course-embedded travel to the Namib Desert.

Kathy's research interests in fungal biology are broad and she is currently working with research students on projects relating to the various roles that fungi play in the Namib Desert. Projects include the biogeography and physiology of black Aspergillus species (primarily A. welwitschiae) that infect Namibia's national plant: Welwitschia mirabilis; and fungal decomposers in the Namib Sand Sea.

In addition to advising Biology majors, Kathy also works with students pursuing the Global Development Studies concentration because of her interests in sustainable resource management, particularly in arid regions of Africa. In 2000, Kathy and Peter Jacobson worked with Mary Seely and Doug Cutchins, to develop the Grinnell Corps in Namibia Fellowships. This program, sponsored fully by Grinnell, places two recent Grinnell graduates at the Gobabeb Training and Resource Center for one year to assist with research and training activities aimed at empowering Namibians to use their natural resources in a sustainable manner.


Our Projects are Supported By:

Namibia Geological Survey
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Swkop Uranium
Langer Heinrich
Indongo Toyota
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Finnish Embassy
Museums Association
Go Green
Wildlife Conservation Physiology
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KIT University
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