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Researcher in Systems Ecology, University of the Witwatersrand

Dr Yolandi Ernst is a systems ecologist with a special interest in the biophysical and socio-ecological consequences and challenges of climate change on various systems. With expertise in remote sensing, data management and applied spatial analysis, her research integrates climate data into assessments of system functionality. Yolandi received her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2018, focusing on the spatio-temporal dynamics of vegetation seasonality with respect to climate, fire and elephants in the Kruger National Park. As a Carnegie Research Fellow, her postdoctoral research focused on land surface phenology and the scaling of observations from various earth observation products, linking observed changes to environmental variables. Yolandi recently led the African regional greenhouse gases budget for the 2010-2019 period as part of the Regional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes Phase 2 (RECCAP2) project. In her close collaboration with the forestry sector in South Africa her efforts are directed at the co-production of knowledge that can enhance the industry’s climate resilience and sustainability. Yolandi further leads a work package on the spatial and temporal dynamics of critical diseases in Africa in response to predicted climate and environmental changes as part of the DELTAS Africa Sub-Saharan African Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics (SSACAB) II programme. In her role as researcher at the GCI, she applies her expertise to make important contributions to the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) project, as well as the Knowledge and climate services from an African observation and Data research Infrastructure (KADI) project.


  • –present
    Researcher in Systems Ecology, University of the Witwatersrand


  • 2018 
    University of the Witwatersrand, PhD Ecology