A scientific study to understand the role of biomass burning emissions and low-level clouds in changing the climate in southern Africa has started along the coast off Namibia's Walvis Bay.

Two scientific research aircraft belonging to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) of the United States started the one-month study last week. The research topic is Observations of Aerosols above Clouds and their Interactions (ORACLES).

Biomass refers to organic matter such as wood which is burned and used as a fuel. Aerosol are extremely-fine liquid droplets or solid particles that remain suspended in air.

Students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology, the University of Namibia and others from South Africa are part of the project.

Explaining the data collection process to the media here on Friday, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois in the US, Gregory McFarquhar, said this is a very important project to understand climate change in Africa and globally.

"The conclusions are expected in four years from now. For now we cannot conclude on anything regarding situations such as lack of rain in Africa," said the professor.

Nasa Principal Investigator Jens Redemann told the media that Walvis Bay was selected for the study as the southeastern Atlantic provides a natural laboratory to study climate science while Walvis Bay International Airport is well equipped for the research equipment such as aircraft and other equipment they are using.

"The data will be used to predict precipitation and the climate change effect such as drought in Africa and globally," he said.

Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi, who attended the official launch of the event at the airport on Friday, said it was necessary for Namibia to be part of the study as the country is also affected by climate change.

The data has long-term benefits for Namibia to understand near-coast ocean ecosystem productivity, surface characteristics of hyper-arid regions and near-coast fog distribution, among other benefits, he added.