GCRF African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (African SWIFT)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: NCAS

Abstract

The GCRF African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (GCRF African-SWIFT) programme aims to develop a sustainable research capability in tropical weather forecasting which will enhance the livelihood of African populations and improve the economies of their countries. Improved forecasts will address key aspects of the UK Aid strategy. The results will be translatable beyond the partner countries to other nations of Africa and the developing world more widely. In order to improve African weather prediction, fundamental scientific research is needed, in the physics of tropical weather systems, evaluation and presentation of complex model and satellite data, and communication and exploitation of forecasts. The programme will develop research capability to yield ongoing forecasting improvements in the coming decades.

The overall aims of the project are to:

I. Make research advances needed for significant improvements in weather forecasts in Africa, and the tropics more generally, from the hourly to the seasonal timescale.
II. Build capability among UK and African partners to improve, maintain and evaluate operational tropical forecasts in future.
III. Assist African partners in developing capacity for sustained training of forecasters, in partnership with African academic institutions and international agencies.

Our strategy to increase research capability with societal impact is to build upon existing partnerships between forecasting centres and universities within four partner countries (Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya) and within the UK. In-country partnerships combine the strengths of academic and operational perspectives and provide sustainability. The project is embedded within the long-term structures and strategies for international coordination for the region. Specifically, our programme addresses the aims of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO; project partner).

The potential applications and benefits are:

A. New research capability in observing, modelling and evaluating forecasts of tropical high-impact weather;
B. Robust networks of African scientists with capability to advance the science in this field, and pull the science through into operational impact;
C. Significant improvements in weather forecasts, as evaluated using tested methods;
D. New forecasting tools used operationally for short-term (0-120h) and S2S prediction;
E. Significant impact on the regional strategy for provision of user-focussed, quality-controlled weather forecasts, as overseen by the WMO;
F. More effective use of weather forecasts to the benefit of African people and nations.

Planned Impact

The impact of African SWIFT is clear through the strong involvement of African operational forecasting centres and the Met Office in the programme of research and capability-building. Through improvement of the operational capability of the African forecast agencies, and their links with their users and customers, African SWIFT will deliver an impact felt by many millions of ordinary people, and by large public and private-sector organisations in Africa. The forecast centres are mandated to deliver forecasts of value to their countries and regions, both through public weather service and to particular socio-economic sectors such as government departments (agricultural planning, disaster preparedness etc) and commercial
activity (power generation, transportation, fisheries etc). The delivery of products to some of these sectors is relatively well established (e.g. aviation, television/radio broadcasting), and in such areas the outcomes of improved predictions will be passed directly to deliver impact to users and the general public. In other areas there is very significant unfulfilled potential which will be evaluated in the project.

Specific beneficiaries include:

A. The scientific and academic community in the UK, which includes the Met Office will benefit from the increased research capability within the UK of weather forecasting in the tropics at 0-120h to seasonal time scales. This research capability comes both in the form of trained researchers and improved leadership experience, and in the form of research and modelling tools. This capability will be applicable to the rest of Africa and to many other tropical developing countries.

B. Weather and climate agencies in Africa will benefit directly from the research, training and collaborations. There is significant staff-time in each African country to collaborate on science questions with operational impact: secondment of these scientists between academic and weather services will be encouraged and funded where necessary. The academic-operational collaboration within countries, and between those countries, will make the resulting research networks more sustainable. Research capacity and tools will be developed in partnership between the UK and African partner organisations for further use in Africa beyond SWIFT.

C. Universities in Africa will benefit from strengthened links with the operational centres, a stronger pool of experienced researchers and research leaders, and a stronger link between their research and teaching programmes.

D. Five African research fellowships will be funded, in order to accelerate the research and leadership training of talented early-career scientists in the continent. These will be linked to our work package structure but awarded in open competition and will be mentored to give experience at UK research institutions and in the African operational and academic sectors.

E. Decision-making organisations in Africa and internationally will benefit from: Improved, quality-controlled forecasts on which to base decisions; Improved sharing of knowledge with the weather forecast agencies, so that forecast information is better tailored to their needs, brokered within WP-R1 in the project; Improved documentation and information regarding the availability and use of quantitative, quality-controlled forecasts, funded in WP-M2; A wider pool of trained specialists in Africa, and a better-trained workforce.

F. The wider public in Africa will benefit from improved forecasting skill resulting from better models for forecasting at various timescales, from better conceptual understanding of synoptic weather patterns over Africa and their uncertainty, and from advanced training for operational forecasters in Africa. The latter will not only have the aforementioned tools available, but also will gain training in evaluating the skill of the various forecast tools and thus gain confidence in their forecasts.

Publications

10 25 50
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Bourgeois E (2017) Characteristics of midlevel clouds over West Africa in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

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Dike V N (2018) Obstacles facing Africa's young climate scientists in Nature Climate Change

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Padi M (2018) Large-eddy simulation of dust-uplift by a haboob density current in Atmospheric Environment

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Padi M (2018) Predicting Weather Changes in Open Access Journal of Science

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Padi M (2018) Food Crop Farming and the Climate in Southern Ghana in Acta Scientific Agriculture

 
Title GCRF African SWIFT Logo 
Description Logo for the GCRF African SWIFT Programme 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Branding and visibility 
URL https://africanswift.org/
 
Title Weather Review and Forecasting Video - GMet 
Description Analysing weather charts with colour pencils and paint programs, and presenting weather on TV and social media. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact It has helped reduce weather related accidents on the Volta Lake in Ghana, solved health issues through clean environment. 
URL https://citinewsroom.com/2018/06/05/no-cholera-cases-recorded-in-accra-since-2017-ama-boss/
 
Description HEFCE Institutional Sponsorship
Amount £42,523 (GBP)
Organisation Higher Education Funding Council for England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 07/2018
 
Description Improving Preparedness to Agro-Climatic Extremes in Malawi (IPACE-Malawi)
Amount £252,820 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S005900/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 07/2020
 
Description SHEAR Catalyst Call
Amount £250,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S006087/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 10/2020
 
Title Recycling Business in the 21st Century - GMet 
Description Collecting waste products like plastic rubbers, metals, and bottles in the community and selling them. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact It has helped in cleaning-up the environment, and reducing poverty (a contribution to the SDGs). 
URL https://juniperpublishers.com/ijesnr/pdf/IJESNR.MS.ID.555893.pdf
 
Title Vodacom - GMet 
Description Vodacom has collaborated with GMet, and developed an application on mobile phones (Android) which will enable GMet to provide severe weather information to inhabitants in Accra whenever there is an approach of rain storms that will cause flooding, then they could be evacuated to safer grounds known as 'safe havens' by NADMO. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact It has helped reduce flood related fatalities in the Accra Metropolis. 
URL https://thecouchgh.com/2018/05/30/zanetor-partners-vodacom-rips-to-launch-flood-monitoring-app/
 
Title ICPAC Maproom 
Description This is supported by ENACTS and SWIFT contribution is on producing user-relevant climate information (such as the onset, cessation) and updating the products. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Easy accessibility of climate data and information for decision making in agriculture and food security. 
URL http://digilib.icpac.net/maproom/Agriculture/Forecast/ONDonsetCessn.html
 
Title Multi-Year WRF Simulation Data 
Description The dataset is Reanalysis-forced WRF simulations of precipitation and within-season characteristics for ICPAC's operational physics configuration. The data are used to assess model biases in interseasonal characteristics from raingauge-merged CHIRPS. They are now employed to identify operational forecast anomalies of onset, cessation, growing length, and dry and wet spells to measure magnitudes of changes for agriculture-focused forecasts. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Contributed to improving and contextualizing operational forecasts. 
 
Title UKMO Real-Time Convection Model 
Description Real-time convective scale model running every 12 hours out to 5 days lead-time. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is a research resource that is available to all scientists and forecasters working in the project that allows the real time and post event assessment of a 'research mode' model. 
 
Title WRF-Simulated Precipitation Data Analysis 
Description Several sets of WRF-simulated precipitation data for MAM 2011 are used to understand model response to cumulus, microphysics, land surface, and radiation schemes over the GHA. The precipitation data were analysed to assess biases in rainfall and onset of MAM 2011. The analysis shows that microphysics schemes have the lowest effects on simulated precipitation while use of NOAH-MP land surface, Kain-Fritsch cumulus and RRMTG shortwave radiation schemes reproduced MAM precipitation more skilfully than other combinations of physics parameterizations. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Contributed to improving operational S2S forecasting over the Greater Horn of Africa 
 
Description BP ANACIM Senegal 
Organisation BP (British Petroleum)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Capacity building
Collaborator Contribution Resource to be dedicated to in-country forecasting agency - ANACIM
Impact This should result in better weather forecasting using radar in Senegal
Start Year 2018
 
Description CEH-Leeds 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council
Department Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My team in Leeds conduct atmospheric studies using observations, models and theoretical ideas. I have also led a number of projects and field experiements in which we have collaborated with CEH.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in land-surface processes. Expertise in land-atmosphere interactions. Expertise in land-atmosphere climate dynamics. Data analysis, especially remote sensing of rainfall and land surface state. Leadership of projects. Co-supervision of PhD students.
Impact This is a multidisciplinary partnership in the area of land-atmosphere interaction. It has resulted in a large number of high-impact papers, successful jointly-supervised PhD studentships, and successful impacts, especially in Africa.
 
Description ICPAC Regional Development Objectives Grant Agreement 
Organisation United States Agency for International Development
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Capacity building, forecast production
Collaborator Contribution Support for training workshops
Impact Enhancement of skill on modelling and forecast generation
Start Year 2018
 
Description Met Office 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Our research group analyses atmospheric processes in order to better represent them in the Met Office's forecast models. We also use those forecast models in our research, and evaluate their performance in order to identify the best strategies to improve the models.
Collaborator Contribution The Met Office brings its models and its datasets to the partnership, in addition to the considerable expertise of its staff. The Met Office also represent a conduit to the impact of our research for society, through its provision of operational weather and climate forecasts.
Impact Our research has influenced the Met Office strategy for model development, especially in regard to high-resolution models, and the convective parametrisation scheme. We have jointly influenced international strategy for atmospheric research and measurements.
 
Description WMO HIGHWAY East Africa 
Organisation World Meteorological Organization
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Training, research
Collaborator Contribution Support for Forecast Testbed events
Impact Increased participation in analysing and forecasting on the nowcasting timescale
Start Year 2018
 
Title MARTIN Image annotator 
Description MARTIN is a simple program written in python for viewing and annotating weather forecast imagery. It has been created as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) African SWIFT (Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques). The aim of MARTIN is to make the viewing of a very large number of forecast or case study images less awkward and facilitate the drawing of features from one variable on screen to be compared with other related fields (from the same or different model). For the GCRF African SWIFT testbeds MARTIN has been compiled into an executable to simplify the process of using it. This means that there are no python library dependencies. Therefore, the Windows version should work on any Windows computer and the Linux version should work on any Linux computer. The python code can be made available for compilation on a Mac if required, however this has not been tested. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact MARTIN was successfully used during SWIFT-SWFDP training in Nairobi in January 2019. It allowed participants to easily access forecast imagery (from thousands of images) and annotate images for case studies. MARTIN is currently still in development and 
URL https://doi.org/10.5281%2Fzenodo.2560181
 
Title SWIFT Management Tool 
Description A web application for collecting progress updates from Work Package Leaders and Partner Leaders 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Trial period began in February 2019 reporting period 
URL https://swift-pm.herokuapp.com
 
Description African SWIFT contributions to the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at the 50th GHA Climate Outlook Forum on the GCRF African SWIFT Programme and its research contributions to ICPAC to inform stakeholders of new research areas and outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description East and West Africa Benchmarking Exercise - ICPAC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Distribution of questionnaires on current S2S operational forecast and verification practices. Understanding current operational S2S forecast and verification techniques and also visibility of GCRF African SWIFT to NMHSs which are not part of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description GCRF African SWIFT Kick-Off Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The NCAS-led Global Challenges Research Fund African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (GCRF African SWIFT) project held their kick-off meeting in Dakar, Senegal from 13 - 17 November, 2017. The project meeting in Dakar was an opportunity for the team to lay out the groundwork for the four-year project, which aims to improve tropical forecasting ability, build capacity within African forecasting agencies, and improve communication links to forecast users. The fulfilment of these aims will greatly benefit African populations and demonstrate forecasting capability in the wider developing world. Over 50 project members attended the meeting within which: Work Package leaders developed their plans for the project; the governance and management of SWIFT was outlined to all members; monitoring, evaluation and learning plans were developed in collaboration with project participants; partnerships with external programmes were explored; site visits to local fishing communities were undertaken; and a meeting of the Executive Committee was held. The event was key for the implementation of SWIFT and a chance for key decisions to be made and plans developed in order for the programme to get off to a successful start.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://gcrfafricanswift.exposure.co/gcrf-african-swift-project-kickoff
 
Description HyVic-pilot flights over Lake Victoria 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact HyVic-pilot flights over Lake Victoria delivered by SWIFT staff, working with WMO-led HIGHWAY  & NERC MOYA projects (Jan 2019), working with Uganda Met Agency & Met Office staff
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description ICPAC Capacity Building Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Capacity building workshop focusing on seasonal forecast generation using statistical and dynamical downscaling techniques.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ICPAC Capacity-Building Workshop on Data Library and Maproom 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Capacity building on utilizing maproom and analysing climate datasets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ICPAC Technical Officers' Training 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The main objective of the workshop was to train professionals, practitioners and policy makers on the use of climate information in Planning.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description S2S Forecasting ICPAC/WMO/KOICA 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Capacity building workshop focusing on sub-seasonal to seasonal forecast generation using statistical and dynamical downscaling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description SWFDP workshop Nairobi 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Doug Parker and Samantha Clarke attended a WMO-SWFDP meeting in Nairobi in Jan 2019 to help run a practical session aimed at operational forecasters from each east African country (1 participant per country) and Doug also gave a lecture on synoptic weather of east Africa. This event was also attended/ organised by Andy Hartley (Met Office/HyVic/SWIFT) who gave many lectures and ran practical sessions. The aim of the workshop was to train the forecasters in using numerical weather prediction model forecasts and to learn about the limitations/ challenges each of the countries operational forecasting centre currently has implementing or using these models. During the workshop SWIFT flyers were handed out and some of Samantha's work for WP7 was presented to the group. This caused participants to visit the SWIFT website and ask for more information on the project/ ask how they could be involved in it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description SWFDP workshop Togo 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Approximately 2 participant for each west African country (20-30 people) attended a 2 week workshop in Lome, Togo in November 2018 along with around 20 SWIFT participants. This workshop was aimed mostly at training operational forecasters from each west African country. This workshop was a collaboration between WMO and SWIFT and a presentation was given about the SWIFT project along with many discussions taking place between SWIFT participants and the non SWIFT participants. This workshop allowed the SWIFT project to be advertised to a wider audience across multiple African countries and other international countries such as Canada, USA and France. In turn this workshop has opened up research discussions with people from these international countries that would not have been aware of SWIFT otherwise and has helped SWIFT participants to have a better understanding of what countries within west Africa have particular limitations in currently and research that we could do that may help in the future. Lectures and practical sessions were given/ run by SWIFT participants to help the workshop attendees have a better understanding of weather forecasting in west Africa. Many of the SWIFT attendees of this workshop were researchers and attending this event allowed for them to engage with forecasters and learn from them, giving invaluable knowledge for upcoming SWIFT Testbeds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://africanswift.org/2018/11/
 
Description SWIFT Inaugural Executive Committee and Advisory Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Inaugural meeting of the SWIFT Advisory Board together with the Executive Committee to discuss the upcoming GCRF Grow Cohort Stage Gate Review and to assess progress made in the first year of the programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description SWIFT test-bed 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact delivered in Nairobi (Jan 2019)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description UK Alliance for Disaster Research Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To raise awareness of the SWIFT project, its goals and objectives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018