Gobabeb Research Station
The research centre Gobabeb is located in the Namib
Naukluft Park. For over 30 years ecological research has been
carried out, resulting in a rich database concerning the ecology of the area. Today the continuing
long-term ecological research efforts are being carried out towards
understanding the interactions between and influences on ecology and human activities in
arid environments and contributing to their sustainability.
The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) facilitates research and study at Gobabeb by scientists, educators, post-graduate and undergraduate students from Namibia and around the world. These scientists, educators and students are supported by a comprehensive library collection concerning arid environments and basic laboratory equipment. Gobabeb provides a stimulating environment in which to work, a convenient base from which to conduct fieldwork in the Namib and elsewhere in Namibia.
Research in arid and semi-arid Namibia covers a multitude of subjects, both basic and applied. Study of the Namib desert by a great number of scientists from all over the world during the past thirty years has led to the creation of a rich store of knowledge and understanding of arid environments - particularly Namibia's. This wealth of information, which includes more than 500 publications emanating from staff and associates of the DRFN, supports ongoing activities and is available for use by researchers, students and the country at large.
Gobabeb and the surrounding research area present
locations because the area
presents several ecological systems including the sand dunes, gravel
plains, riverbeds, both within and outside the fog belt. Climatic patterns
such as wet and dry years are more pronounced in the area and distinguishable in
this extremely arid environment, which makes it easier to study. Unlike
other parts of Namibia, this area has low human disturbance, and thus
presents better chances of studying ecosystem interrelations and
interactions without the factor of the human disturbance.
A large part of the research is focused on aspects relating to three major environmental conventions: climate change, desertification and biodiversity.
The station maintains four autographic weather stations throughout the central Namib Desert. Gobabeb maintains a thirty year weather record, and the daily weather readings are used by the national meteorological services, by flights and navigation of ships on the west coast, as well as for global climate monitoring.
Data gathered from long-term monitoring of invertebrates such as beetle
species and vegetation e.g. grasses and Welwitschia, is used to model
response of the environment to climatic events such as rainfall and
droughts, and to determine indicators of land degradation and to
contribute to the understanding of arid land ecology. Other databases
include photographs and
long-term studies of the Nara fruit (Acanthosicyos
horridus), a staple food of the Topnaar communities.
The DRFN is involved with a number of communities in a variety of ways, especially with the Topnaars who live on the banks of the Kuiseb River. They are especially involved in the investigations of fog harvesting, and the Nara plants and its declining productivity in the Kuiseb Valley.
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