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Global project to improve African weather forecasting 

Summary

  • Build capacity within African forecasting agencies, and improve communication links to forecast users
  • Improve tropical forecasting ability on hourly and seasonal timescales
  • Assist African partners to develop capacity for sustained training of weather forecasters
  • Translate results to wider developing world
  • Benefit African populations, public and private sector organisations

Africa weather stationAccurate weather forecasting is an essential tool of modern society, bringing benefits to people’s safety and livelihoods, and to national economic development. The Global Challenges Research Fund African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (GCRF African SWIFT) programme will develop African weather forecasting capability to enhance the livelihood of African populations and improve African economies.

The impacts of weather in Africa can be very significant, not only because of weather extreme such as storms, droughts and floods but also because many citizens live in poor conditions. 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 programme of research and capacity building will improve African weather forecasting capability on hourly and seasonal timescales, and build a sustainable research infrastructure that will continue to make improvements into the future. 

The GCRF African SWIFT team will work with forecast users to tailor the provision and delivery of weather forecasts, for example by setting up SMS weather warnings for farmers and fishermen. The aim is to ensure improved response to high-impact events (e.g. onset of rains, heat-waves, 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 research consortium will be led by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), and builds upon existing partnerships between forecasting centres and universities in four African partner countries - Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. The project will ensure that results can be translated beyond these partner countries and into the wider developing world. 

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. 

The landmark project brings together five UK partners (National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, University of Reading, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK Met Office), ten African partners (ACMAD, ICPAC, ANACIM, UCAD, GMet, KNUST, NiMet, FUTA, KMet and University of Nairobi), and as an advisory partner, the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). 

You can contact GCRF African SWIFT by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Image courtesy of Colin Lloyd.