The Southern African Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000) is an international science project investigating the earth-atmosphere-human system in southern Africa. The programme was conducted over a two-year period from March 1999 to March 2001. The dry season field campaign (August-September 2000) was the most intensive activity and involved over 200 scientists from eighteen countries. The main objectives were to characterize and quantify biogenic, pyrogenic and anthropogenic aerosol and trace gas emissions and their transport and transformations in the atmosphere, and to validate NASA's Earth Observing System's satellite Terra within a scientific context. Five aircraft — two South African Weather Service Aerocommanders, the University of Washington's CV-580, the U.K. Meteorological Office's C-130, and NASA's ER-2—with different altitude capabilities, participated in the campaign. Additional airborne sampling of southern African air masses, that had moved downwind of the subcontinent, was conducted by the CSIRO over Australia. Multiple observations were made in various geographical sectors under different synoptic conditions. Airborne missions were designed to optimize the value of synchronous over-flights of the Terra satellite platform, above regional ground validation and science targets. Numerous smaller-scale ground validation activities took place throughout the subcontinent during the campaign period.