The CSIR’s skills base in atmospheric chemistry includes specialised knowledge and expertise in photochemistry modelling. The area of photochemistry modelling will help South Africa better manage and regulate emissions. This is important since the country faces significant challenges in meeting the World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines for ambient air quality. Photochemical modelling is a fairly new science in South Africa, requiring a unique combination of skills including computer programming, geography and chemistry.
Photochemistry modelling essentially simulates how radiation from the sun changes and transforms the chemistry of emissions and particles in the air, and how these are dispersed in space over time to affect air quality.
Researchers at the CSIR focus their research on local variations in biomass burning (natural and man-made fires) and biogenic emissions (natural emissions from plants), vehicle emissions, the effect of emissions on climate change and possibly the looming issue of fracking-related emissions.