No man is an island…we are connected through the atmosphere / Pieter G. Van Zyl
Van Zyl, Pieter G.
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Besides the obvious (as an atmospheric chemist presenting this inaugural address) – that we are all connected through the atmosphere (i.e. we all breathe the same air) – this presentation will also focus on the other, more general, obvious aspect of this famous phrase/poem – the interconnectedness of people! This address takes a walk through the foundation, the extended family, the friends, the current family, the inspiration, the academic fathers, the colleagues, the students and the collaborators, without whom this journey of becoming a professor would not have been possible. My atmospheric chemistry research activities are explored through the main collaborative national and international programmes/projects through which my research is conducted, i.e. i) DEBITS (Deposition of Biogeochemical Important Trace Species) programme / INDAAF (International Network to study Deposition and Atmospheric Composition in Africa); ii) Welgegund supersite; and iii) other smaller projects conducted in collaboration with industry and government. The presentation shows how a study of the chemical composition of rain and wet deposition of atmospheric pollutants in the South African interior reflects the changes in composition of the atmosphere due to changes in anthropogenic (human) activities, while the long-term trends of inorganic gaseous species in this region also revealed the impacts of increased anthropogenic activities and population growth with an associated increase in energy demand on concentrations of atmospheric pollutants. Finally, it is illustrated how extensive collaborative research led to a comprehensive assessment of surface ozone in South Africa, which highlighted the regional problem associated with surface ozone levels in southern Africa due the impacts of anthropogenic activities (e.g. household combustion) and regional wild fires. The latter study also showed that the complex chemistry associated with atmospheric ozone must be considered when developing an effective management plan to reduce surface ozone concentrations in South Africa.