Monty's Year at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre, Namibia

and, 4 months later…

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Hey everyone!  Sorry about the major lapse in posts.  Since January, I’ve:

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I write to you from a very different place than the Gobabeb of January 7th’s last post.  For starters, it’s green here!  GREEN.  Like the rest of Southern Africa, the Namib has had an exceptional year in terms of rainfall.  A longer and more powerful rainy season than normal (caused in part by La Nina) has transformed the central and eastern Namib into a sea of grass.  The other day I saw over 100 springbok and ~50 ostrich (many of them babies) within a few kilometers of Gobabeb!

Yesterday we broke 2 records (!): 1) annual rainfall total and 2) number of flow days for the Kuiseb River.  A series of heavy rainstorms today pushed us over the previous rainfall record (127 mm in 1976) by 30 mm!  Although the flood documented in my previous post dried up after only a week, another strong flow came down on January 31st, and it hasn’t come close to stopping since.  104 days of the river and still coming strong (breaking the previous record set in 1974)!  Although it’s strength and the amount of suspended sediments changes daily, the water is mostly warm and clean.  I’ve found a number of deep pools which make sweet swimming spots and try and get down to the river whenever I can.  This is a video I created in mid-February when I thought the flood was almost over.

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In other news, our hybrid (solar/diesel) energy system was hit by a lightning bolt over a month ago.  This has meant that we’ve been operating off our back-up diesel generator since then.  Aside from the smell of the diesel fumes, the resulting power curfew has been fun – candlelit dinners, even better stars, and healthier work habits.

My life/work has been divided among a few key projects.  I’ve been helping to run a 5 month internship course for three recent graduates of Namibian universities.  The course is designed to promote scientific leadership, and each one of the students is working on independent projects relating to restoration ecology.  I am also helping to increase the effectiveness of our environmental education programs for local school children with funding from the Finnish government.  Finally, but definitely not least, I was tasked with organizing this years “Open Day,” a public event where people come to Gobabeb to learn about the Namib.  With contributions from schools, universities, government, and environmental organizations this has been a major challenge, but everything seems to be coming together just in time for next weekend.

Ok, more later.

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