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Public Lecture: The impact of climate change on societies in southern Africa

July 29, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
iThemba LABS, Cape Town
SPEAKER: Dr Stephan Woodborne, iThemba LABS
RSVP: 021 843 1021/1275 or

This fascinating lecture is open for the public to attend at no cost.

Dr Stephan Woodborne

My research specifically looks at the forecasts for climate change, and how can we test them. By using past climate change that I reconstructed from baobab trees, it is possible to demonstrate that the climate change scenarios are extremely realistic. Since the likelihood of climate change is shown to be extremely high, we need a very real assessment of the impacts. In addition to the climate project based on baobabs, our iThemba LABS research is also looking at the consequences of climate change: we are able to show that houses eroding in to the sea on the west coast are unprecedented in the last few millennia. We note that water supply nationally, and more locally the issue of day-0 in Cape Town, are linked to climate dynamics that make our water budget extremely tenuous. And finally I will look in to the crystal ball and explore that social dynamic of climate change. The talk will aim to provoke everyone from individuals to policy makers to accept responsibility for their role in our future.


Stephan Woodborne is the Senior Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Scientist at iThemba LABS (Laboratories for Accelerator Based Sciences). He obtained a Ph.D. in archaeology from the University of Cape Town in 1996 and took up a post-doctoral fellowship at the CSIR where he understudied John Vogel in the radiocarbon dating laboratory. He ran the Quaternary Dating Research Unit (QUADRU) at the CSIR for 15 years, and in this time introduced luminescence dating to compliment the radiocarbon dating facility, and he also diversified the field of stable light isotope analyses in South Africa. His research interests are in paleo-science, climate change and ecological processes. Over the last 10 years he has led a program assessing climate models using past climate variability in South Africa as a test case. He has published more than 90 peer review journal articles in fields as diverse as cholera to social development.


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