Dr. Michael Barnes was conferred with his PhD qualification during the spring graduation. Barnes is a meteorology student whose Master’s dissertation was converted to a PhD. His thesis studies the dynamics of cut-low pressure systems- upper tropospheric lows which have a great impact on our country’s weather and it focuses on the processes that lead to these weather systems extending to the surface by case study, climatology and idealised numerical experimentation.

When asked why he chose meteorology Barnes said that he has always had a love for physical geography and particularly a fascination with the weather and how it works. “If you are Capetonian and have seen the weather shift completely within  an hour or someone in Gauteng who has seen a thunderstorm grow in front of your eyes – it’s hard not to be fascinated as to how these processes unfold. On top of this, to be able to predict weather and climate – processes which are so complex and inherently chaotic and unpredictable – is a challenge I had to be a part of!”, he added.

Barnes started studying meteorology in 2011 as an undergraduate and completed his Honours in Meteorology in 2014. He further completed a weather forecasting postgraduate qualification at the South African Weather Services in 2015 and started his Master’s/PhD studies in 2018. One of the challenges he had to overcome was working as a full-time weather forecaster and completing his postgraduate studies. “Working and studying is tough. So I really had to persevere through those initial few months where you are still getting to grips with the literature and trying to figure out how to get some results out of the data. Luckily I had great supervisors in Dr. Ndarana and Prof. Landman and a great support network of friends and family who were able to keep me motivated”, says Barnes. He further added that perseverance got him through these challenges.

This is what he said when asked about his plans in his academic career: “I am not sure yet really. I am looking at a few different opportunities at this stage and will make more definite decisions about my future next year!”.

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I could watch fiction and comedy movies day and I am most likely to write about scientific and health issues. I love to explore new avenues and to challenge myself to get better at my craft while at it. I’d like to think that I am a risk-it-biscuit !