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Africa drought

The National Centre for Atmospheric Science will lead a Global Challenges Research Fund RCUK funded project to improve African weather forecasting capabilities, and benefit the livelihoods of African populations. The project is called GCRF African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (GCRF African SWIFT). 

Accurate weather forecasting is an essential tool of modern society, bringing benefit to people’s safety and livelihoods, and to national economic development. The impacts of weather in Africa can be very significant, not only because of weather extremes such as storms, droughts and floods but also because many citizens live in poor conditions.

In recent years, the world has experienced a revolution in the skill of weather forecasts. The GCRF African SWIFT project will enable us to bring the benefits of these forecasts to millions of African people who are vulnerable to severe weather events. Significantly improving the research capacity within African forecasting will benefit sectors as diverse as emergency response, aviation, agriculture, energy and water.

The GCRF African SWIFT team will work with forecast users to tailor the provision and delivery of weather forecasts, for example by delivering SMS weather warnings to farmers and fishermen. The aim is to ensure improved response to high-impact events (e.g. onset of rains, heatwaves, dry spells and strong winds), improved emergency response to extreme events (urban flooding and prolonged droughts), and increased resilience for response to climate change.

The GCRF African SWIFT project will grow the research base in the UK and strengthen capacity in several African countries for developing and using state-of-the-art satellite tools that will help to improve short time-scale weather forecasts.” - Professor Alan Blyth, NCAS, University of Leeds.

The Global Challenges Research Fund have awarded £7.8m to GCRF African SWIFT with the ambition that African forecasting capabilities will improve on hourly and seasonal timescales, and that a lasting research infrastructure will be put in place that translates benefits to the wider developing world.

The GCRF African SWIFT consortium builds upon existing partnerships between forecasting centres and universities in four African partner countries - Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. Over the four year programme, the team of 25 UK and 45 African atmospheric scientists, social scientists and operational forecasters will undertake fundamental scientific research into the physics of tropical weather systems, evaluation and presentation of complex model and satellite data, and communications and exploitation of forecasts.

You can find out more by visiting the GCRF African SWIFT webpage.

For full list of GCRF funded projects see http://bit.ly/GCRFgrowbrochure

Image courtesy of Colin Lloyd.