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) Food Crop Farming and the Climate in Southern Ghana in Acta Scientific Agriculture

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

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

 
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 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 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 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 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 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