African SWIFT aims to develop the physical understanding of weather systems over Africa and to actively contribute to improving the forecasting of high impact weather events such as urban flooding or prolonged droughts.
African SWIFT Testbed 1a: 24-29 January 2019
This week sees SWIFT partners, Kenyan Meteorological Department (KMD), host the first African SWIFT forecasting testbed. The testbed brings together teams of SWIFT researchers and operational forecasters from East and West Africa and the UK, and will provide excellent insight into the issues faced in producing and delivering forecasts in Africa. The testbed will highlight areas for improvement and crucially will develop closer co-operation between forecasters and researchers. This will result in better delivery of accurate, timely forecasts and forecast products to user groups, such as emergency response agencies and the agricultural and fisheries sectors. The central purpose of the forecasting testbed is to create a working relationship for developmental testing of forecasting systems for Africa. The testbed is carried out in an operational setting that enables forecasters, researchers and forecast users to work together. This week the testbed teams are carrying out real-time testing of both current forecasting techniques, as well as new proposed methods, with some of the testing representing a world first, notably the using of high-resolution, convection-permitting forecasts for Africa. The SWIFT testbeds will improve the understanding of global and regional models by comparing models with different specifications, and so improving forecasters’ interpretation. The teams will also generate new ideas for the visualisation of forecast information, leading to improvements in forecast delivery and accuracy. Through these new interactions between forecasters and researchers SWIFT is advancing the meteorological science and improving the delivery of useful forecast information and products to users groups across West and East Africa. A second SWIFT testbed is scheduled to take place in April 2019.
HyVic Pilot Flight Campaign
During this week the SWIFT testbed will provide support to the HyVic pilot flight campaign over Lake Victoria. The flight campaign has been organised by SWIFT and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) working with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) High impact weather lake system (HIGHWAY) project and the Ugandan National Meteorological Authority. The ultimate aim of the flight campaign is to deliver improved forecasting capability for the Lake Victoria region, specifically for users engaged in fishing and transport on the lake, as well as major urban centres in the lake basin vulnerable to flooding. This working partnership between SWIFT and HIGHWAY will enable the SWIFT testbed team to use real-time observations from the flight campaign, and to analyse the value of these observations to the operational forecasting process. In turn the testbed teams will provide forecasts to be used by the flight team in their planning. The flight team will measure the lake/land breeze circulation over Lake Victoria, a key driver of the severe, life-threatening storms that take place over the lake. This is the first time that circulation patterns have been measured in detail over Lake Victoria, and will lead to significant advancements in our scientific understanding of how thunderstorms develop in the region, thereby improving forecasting capability.