The UK benefits from some of the best forecasting in the world and the UK Met Office is estimated to bring £3 billion of benefit to the UK economy every year. In Africa, the impacts of weather are much higher due to the severity of weather extremes such as storms, droughts and floods, and to the vulnerability of impoverished people. Comparable benefits to those seen in the UK are not yet possible in Africa without significant improvements in the skill and capability of the forecasts.
Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund the African SWIFT programme aims to create the infrastructure for this improvement with its team of 25 UK and 45 African atmospheric scientists, social scientists and operational forecasters. The team will undertake fundamental scientific research into the physics of tropical weather systems; evaluation and presentation of complex model and satellite data; and communication and exploitation of forecasts.
The GCRF African SWIFT team works with forecast users across sectors from aviation to agriculture, energy, water and emergency response to understand how to tailor the provision and delivery of weather forecasts and to ensure improved response to high-impact events (e.g. onset of rains, heat-waves, dry spells, strong winds); rapid emergency response to extreme events, such as urban flooding and prolonged droughts; and increased resilience, through integration of weather prediction into strategies for response to climate change.
The GCRF African SWIFT consortium builds upon existing partnerships between forecasting centres and universities in four African partner countries – Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya – bringing together 5 UK partners (NCAS, University of Leeds, University of Reading, CEH, UK Met Office), 10 African Partners (ACMAD, ICPAC, ANACIM, UCAD, GMet, KNUST, NiMet, FUTA, KMD, and University of Nairobi) and the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) as an advisory partner.