Zimbabwe: Top Zim Climate Scientist Wins Global Award

2 October 2019

One of Zimbabwe's leading climate scientists, Prof Desmond Manatsa, has won a global prize for his distinguished research work on climate change.

He clinched the "Distinguished Researcher of the Year Award, 2019 in Climate Science Field of Ozone Impacts on the Climate" of the World Research Council.

"The Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Prof Desmond Manatsa, recently scooped the World Research Peace Award (RULA) for recognition as the best researcher in Ozone Impact on the Climate in the Field of Climate Science for the year 2019, by the World Research Council, India," read part of a Bindura University of Science Education statement.

"Bindura University of Science Education is proud of this achievement and applauds hard work and commitment among its members. Congratulations, Makorokoto."

The World Peace Award recognises distinguished contributions in the subject area of high potential global impact through a thorough review of published work, open source contribution and pedagogy among other academic attributes.

PEACE is a foundation in the Far East.

The award is based on high impact publications in the field that are determined by citations received against those publications.

The award includes a plaque, trophy and citation, including a lifetime free membership to the foundation. The award was presented to Prof Manatsa by Syed Abuthahir, president of World Research Council. Prof Manatsa's award-winning research was related to the lower stratospheric impacts on the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean which is the most prominent source of global climate changes.

His research basically speaks about the physics involved, which could lead to better rainfall and temperature predictions of a long- term nature.

His research on the impact of the ozone on the climate dates back to his PhD days when he researched on the ozone hole's impact on the climate of Southern Africa when he was studying at Tokyo University in Japan. The results of this research were published in the journal Nature, the number one global journal in Geosciences. In simple terms, ozone is a shield high in the sky protecting us from potentially lethal solar radiation.

Prof Manatsa and his team found that when the ozone hole develops in certain seasons, temperatures are observed to rise significantly and while drying the region.

Ozone hole

But when the "ozone hole" fills up considerably, the sub-region becomes cooler and wetter. These novel findings constitute the strongest evidence yet that ozone has a significant direct impact on climate in Southern Africa.

Prof Manatsa studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and Russian State University of Hydrometeorology, where he graduated with top honours.

"It's quite a great pleasure to receive such a prestigious international award," he told The Herald in an interview. It really shows what we Zimbabweans are capable of achieving even under tough economic conditions. If resources are not constraining then the sky is the limit for Zimbabweans.

"I just want to encourage my fellow academics to also navigate the international waters. Our intellect matches international standards. These international awards speak for themselves."

Recently, he and his colleague, Prof Geoffrey Mukwada of the University of Free State, made a startling discovery when they revealed the existence of an ozone hole over South Africa that is centred above the Free State Province. These findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science.

Prof Manatsa is the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Bindura University of Science Education and chairman of Africa Alliance for Disaster Risk Institutions (AADRI), an affiliate of Japan-based Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Institutions (GADRI).

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