The SEACRIFOG team met on Sao Vincente/Cape Verde on the 19th and 20th June. The remote island formed a perfect place for us to meet. The island has special importance for the African and European greenhouse gas and aerosol observations. Furthermore, the SEACRIFOG partners GEOMAR and INDP had opened last year the Oceans Observation Centre Mindelo, offering conference rooms, labs and other important facilities for oceanic research in a futuristic building. The centre is a result of a long lasting partnership between the European and African institutions.
SEACRIFOG profits from the experiences both partners gained on collaboration and capacity building for sustainable research infrastructures in Africa. During the two-day meeting, the participants presented their progress and current results, but also discussed the problems they face. Lively discussions supported the scientific and conceptual performance of the partners. At the morning of the second day, administrative issues regarding timelines, reports and communication were addressed, as well as future events and calls. In between all sessions, there was plenty of time to explore the new building from top to bottom and get impressive inside views to devices and techniques used for ocean observation.
During the afternoon of the second day, all participants visited the atmospheric station of the partner Tropos. On a remote, hilly, dry and lava-covered environment, close by the sea, a container village topped by a 30m tower with attached measurement equipment is based. Here, scientists measure the continental background and marine aerosols as well as gases in the atmosphere. Due to the special geographical location of Cape Verde, air masses are transported to the islands with origins from Northwest Africa, Europe, North America and the northern Atlantic. In the containers, sensitive instruments and PCs are stored to process, analyse and compute data from the collected samples.
As SEACRIFOG is also focusing on land use change and agriculture, the second excursion station was an experimental site for a future shrimp farm. Cape Verde imports most of the shrimp eaten on the archipelago. The Cape Verdean, Dutch and Brazilian operators of the farm are constructing the aquaculture side, which is so far the only one on the islands. There are, however, still some challenges to overcome. The SEACRIFOG team was very interested to discuss problems which will appear, when the salinity of the water increases due to evaporation in the huge shrimp basins.
The highlight of the excursion was a visit to the measurement ship ‘Islandia’ holed by GEOMAR and INDP. The ship is currently docked in at the Mindelo habour due to an engine damage, but for all colleagues working on predominantly terrestrial sides, it was remarkable to understand under which cramped circumstances the ocean scientist need to work and sometimes live, when taking samples.