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The Pan-African Soil Challenge

November 26-30, 2018 │ WASCAL Headquarters, Accra, Ghana

What is PASCAL?

PASCAL is a project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the scope of the DFG Ideas Competition International Research Marketing. The prize-winning proposal was designed by Forschungszentrum Jülich and its competence centres HPSC TerrSys, ISMC, and Geoverbund ABC/J. It aims to initiate a knowledge and technology transfer bridge (Science Bridge) between Germany and Africa in the areas of soil science, nutrition and hydrology. It has two main components: a training unit in terrestrial modelling followed by an interactive ‘hackathon’ in Africa. This will enable African researchers to partner with German experts on site to discuss models and further develop software. The PASCAL project will be given media coverage by an African journalist, other media partners and social media activities.

Why Africa?

As a direct neighbor, Europe bears a special responsibility for Africa: According to UN estimates, in the year 2100, 40 % of the world's population will live on the African continent. A secure and sustainable food production for Africa is one of the most stringent global challenges under projected demographic explosion and climatic changes. HPC technologies, e.g. applied to hydrological and atmospheric simulations within terrestrial systems, may contribute to tackle this challenge. The three Jülich competence centers, having excellent expertise in these fields, can help to meet these challenges.

Idea and innovativeness

Hackathons are the newest trend in gathering scientific modelers, organising HPC courses is even more exporting our expertise globally. HPC technologies itself are extremely innovative with a fast growing field of applications, whereby well trained researchers, who are able to handle these complex systems, are a mandatory prerequisite for acting as knowledge multipliers. Education and training in HPC is thus of extraordinary importance.

It is one of Geoverbund ABC/J’s and HPSC TerrSys's aims to support early-career scientists as well as established researchers in this regard. The need for HPC training in the geosciences is underlined by a huge demand for places for HPSC TerrSys's Fall Schools, which take part annually at the University of Bonn, Germany. In 2016, 21 % of the applicants came from abroad; their percentage increased to 46 % in 2017. Besides participants from European neighbor countries, we welcomed a significant number of early career researchers and also postdocs from South America (Columbia, Argentina, Mexico), Asia (China, India, Nepal), and Africa. This raised the idea of bringing the course to interested researchers and turning the “usual way” around.

We cordially invite young and senior African scientists to become part of PASCAL by joining this year’s HPC training and/or hackathon, taking place from November 26-30, 2018 at the WASCAL headquarter in Accra, Ghana.

PASCAL's scope is unique in gathering researchers over the African continent to bring together their knowledge and bring them in contact with the German expertise from the ABC/J region around one of the most stringent continental issues.