African SWIFT collaborate with WMO-Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project

From 20-30 November 2018, in Lomé, Togo, African SWIFT are collaborating with the first World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project for West Africa (SWFDP-West Africa) training workshop on severe weather forecasting and delivery of warning services.

The training programme has been developed jointly by WMO and African SWIFT in consultation with contributing partners. Experts from global and regional centres (e.g. ECCC, Météo-France, NOAA/NCEP, RSMC – ANACIM, Dakar, ACMAD, AGRHYMET Centre), as well as from SWIFT partners at the University of Leeds, the Federal University of Technology Akure, (FUTA), ACMAD and Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) will contribute to the workshop as lecturers. Participants from SWIFT Kenya partners (University of Nairobi and KMD) will share their practical experience of the successful SWFDP project in Eastern Africa.

Week 1 of the workshop is focused on forecasting techniques, interpretation of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) products and satellite based information, and its best use in severe weather forecasting. Week 2 looks at public weather services e.g. determination of service delivery gaps, dissemination channels, impact-based forecast and warning services, introduction to the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standard for dissemination of warnings, and working with the media and with Disaster Management and Civil Protection Authorities.

Operational forecasters and public weather services (PWS) staff from 15 National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) across the sub-region are attending, including from Cabo Verde, Guineas-Bissau, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. SWIFT participants attending include forecasters, academics, researchers and lecturers from the SWIFT African partner countries (Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya). The workshop brings together SWIFT forecasters and researchers to learn and develop standard forecasting techniques that will be further developed in the SWIFT testbeds in 2019.

From SWFDP, SWIFT and PWS perspective, the main aims of the workshop are:

  • To introduce participants to the available NWP and Guidance products through SWFDP-West Africa and to develop capacity on their interpretation and best use in forecasting; to prepare participants for the demonstration phase of SWFDP-West Africa in early 2019.
  • To introduce forecasters to the latest techniques for West African synoptic forecasting and nowcasting and to introduce researchers to the challenges and methods of operational forecasting; to apply these techniques to new case-studies, which will encourage forecaster-researcher dialogue and to develop training tools for future training.
  • To engage the forecasters and PWS staff with users (e.g. from DMCPAs, media, agriculture) to improve delivery of warnings and services and to improve dissemination of warning through various channels of communication including websites and social media.
  • To introduce impact based forecasting and warning (IBFW) services.

The workshop is convened at the kind invitation of the Government of Togo and has received funding support from the Climate Risk and Early Warnings Systems (CREWS) Initiative.

National stakeholder dialogue takes place in Accra, Ghana

This week the SWIFT Users team is meeting in Accra for a dialogue with stakeholders. Hosted by the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the discussion will focus on how best to support users’ understanding and use of weather /climate forecast and services in Ghana.

The meeting takes place 8-9 November and is led by Philip Antwi-Agyei (KNUST), Andrea Taylor (University of Leeds) and Maureen Ahiataku (GMet), together with SWIFT Programme Science Director, Elijah Adefisan (ACMAD) and Nicolas Fournier (UK Met Office). Stakeholders taking part include, representatives from government ministries and departments, delegates from operational forecasting agencies and industrial sectors such as oil an gas, national and international NGOs and academic research groups.

This is the first of four African SWIFT national dialogues with stakeholder groups, with similar events planned in Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya. The key aims of the Users work package are to:

  • Examine the usefulness of existing forecast provision for decision making in climate sensitive sectors across nowcasting to seasonal timescales.
  • Bring users and providers of forecasts together to identify how the usefulness and accessibility of forecasts products can be increased.
  • Develop effective strategies for communicating forecasts to different users in climate sensitive sectors.

As stakeholders discuss their experiences of weather/climate impact within their sector (agriculture, fisheries, oil and gas, water resources, disaster management etc.), they are identifying what information they need from weather forecasts, and what support is required to enable them to use the information in making strategic decisions.  A representative from the oil and gas sector has highlighted the challenges within Ghana to accessing marine-based weather data. A key question for all is, what forecast information is required, and by whom, to mitigate against the negative impacts of severe weather events.

For further information contact Philip Antwi-Agyei or Andrea Taylor via the links above.


Elijah Adefisan from FUTA is appointed as African SWIFT Programme Science Director

Elijah Adesanya Adefisan has been appointed as the African SWIFT Programme Science Director with effect from October 2018. This is a strategically significant role for the SWIFT project with prime responsibility for the scientific coordination of the SWIFT science agenda between the ten African partners. Elijah is based at the African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) in Niamey, Niger.  After successfully completing his first degree in meteorology in 1998, Elijah was awarded a Masters in Technology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria (FUTA). He was awarded his PhD in 2014 following a programme of research split between University of Cape Town and FUTA. For his PhD, Elijah  used the WRF model to research the numerical simulation of meso-scale convective systems (MCS); this led him to develop an algorithm for tracking MCS from the initiation to the decay stage. He was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at FUTA in 2015 and currently teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as well as supervising a number of PhD students. Elijah has also undergone forecasting training with the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and during his time with African SWIFT plans to continue his important work to link the latest advances in scientific research to operational weather forecasting.

As Programme Science Director Elijah is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the SWIFT project and the establishment of the ACMAD Research and Development Department. Other important aspects of his role are, to lead on SWIFT activities in operational training and university programmes; and to oversee the synthesis of different weather and climate services to user needs and their dissemination to different user communities. He will also establish partnerships to define, generate and deliver meteorological products and develop capacity for the production, interpretation and use of meteorological information.

Whilst studying for his PhD, Elijah attended the first international summer school in Meteorology and Climate Science held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana in 2008, and run jointly with Leeds, Reading, GMet and the Met Office. He will return to KNUST for the 2019 summer school as the SWIFT Programme Science Director.

In a recent visit to the University of Leeds Elijah described his ambition, “to contribute to the development of ACMAD by advancing its role to create a dynamic research environment that brings together scientists from across the region, to incubate and grow new research ideas and to forge productive and lasting connections between researchers, operational forecasters and users.”

African SWIFT Fellowships Awarded

We are pleased to announce the appointment of three African SWIFT Research Fellowships

  • David Awolala from FUTA, Akure, Nigeria. David’s host institutions are FUTA and the University of Nairobi, Kenya. David joins the SWIFT Work Packages R1 Users team.
  • Habib Senghor from (LPAO-SF)/ UCAD, Senegal. Habib’s host institution is ANACIM. Habib joins the SWIFT Work Packages: R2 Evaluation; R3 Satellites; R5 Synoptic methods; R7 CP ensembles.
  • Richard Muita from Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD). Richard’s host institute will be University of Nairobi. Richard joins SWIFT Work Packages R1 Users and R2 Evaluation teams.

The African SWIFT Fellowship Programme offers an exciting opportunity for early-career researchers to expand their knowledge of African weather and climate research and gain leadership experience. More opportunities will be advertised on this website next year.

African SWIFT PhD Studentships Awarded

Congratulations to Hellen Elimo Msemo and Michael Baidu who have been awarded SWIFT PhD studentships to commence in October 2018. Hellen currently works as a Lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam and as Manager of Network Operations with the Tanzania Meteorological Agency. Her SWIFT research will look at ‘Bridging the gap between numerical forecast evaluation and value to decision makers in climate sensitive sectors’; Hellen will connect chiefly with SWIFT Work Packages R7, CP Ensembles; R1, Users, and R2 evaluation. Michael Baidu joins the SWIFT team from the Research and Applied Meteorology Department, Ghana Meteorological Agency, Legon – Accra Ghana. His studentship is on, ‘The Understanding and Prediction of High Impact Weather over West Africa’. His research will connect chiefly with SWIFT Work Package R5, Synoptic Methods.  Both will join the full-time PhD programme at the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK.


African SWIFT partners and Advisory Board discuss strategy, Nairobi – June 2018

In mid-June 2018 African SWIFT partners met in Nairobi for a series of strategy discussions with the newly appointed African SWIFT Advisory Board. The meeting was hosted by the Kenyan Meteorological Department. Discussions centred on the new research from the SWIFT work package teams, and plans for the workshops and training events scheduled for the coming years. These events include a number of weather forecasting testbeds, which are intensive, real-time forecasting exercises at which forecasters come together with researchers for a limited time period to perform operational forecasting. To further advance the training of meteorologists in the region SWIFT will also run a number of training workshops, and two international summer schools in West Africa, in collaboration with early career researcher networks. 

Whilst in Nairobi SWIFT convened an open discussion with early career scientists from across the region which focused on the challenges faced by this group. SWIFT will aim to build into its programme a couple of the potentially powerful solutions to these challenges put forward in the discussion. The building of productive, working collaborations with stakeholders is one of SWIFT’s key aims, and will ensure the programme has lasting impact across both West and East Africa.

Two African SWIFT PhD Studentships available

There are two new exciting opportunities to join the African SWIFT research team as a full-time PhD student.  These fully funded studentships, based at the University of Leeds will focus on:

  • The Understanding and Prediction of High Impact Weather over West Africa
  • Bridging the gap between numerical forecast evaluation and value to decision makers in climate sensitive sectors

For more information and how to apply.

African SWIFT report on flooding and heavy rainfall in Kenya

Report by SWIFT Research Team from Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD)

Emmah Mwangi, John Mungai and Benard Chanzu report:

During the March-May (MAM) 2018 season most parts of Kenya have received enhanced rainfall, which was characterized by intense storms.  As at 26th April, 2018 much of the country had already received rainfall that was over 125% of the MAM Long Term Mean (LTM) as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Rainfall total up to 26th April compared to the MAM long term Means

The heavy rainfall has caused flooding, landslides, loss of property and life in some parts of the country. Much of the flooding has occurred in urban and low lying areas and has been as a result of two factors, namely:  the intense rainfall events over most parts of the country and accumulated heavy and continuous rainfall in the upper catchment areas that are sources of some of the rivers that broke their banks.

The heavy rainfall can be attributed to three factors: firstly, at the beginning of the season (Early March) heavy rainfall over much of the country was caused by the presence of two tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean; Dumazile and Eliakim. The Cyclones caused heavy rainfall by pulling in moisture from the Congo basin and creating a pressure gradient that pulled the North-South arm of the rainfall generating Inter Tropical Convergence Zone eastwards.

Secondly, for most of the season the Madden Jullian Oscillation (MJO) was conducive. The MJO is a band of convective clouds and rain moving west to east. The circulation occurs in various phases that can be either conducive or unfavorable for rainfall generation over Kenya. This time around, the circulation has been persistently been in the phases that are conducive for rainfall enhancement over Kenya and hence heavy rains that have pounded the country within the season. Thirdly, the warm Sea Surface Temperatures over the Western Indian Ocean sustained the convergence belt over the region.

Frequent flooding and droughts are part of the climatic variability in Kenya. However, these events have become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change which is being experienced globally. These events are projected to be more frequent and intense in future hence, there is need to institute effective adaptation and contingency plans amongst the vulnerable communities to ensure they are not severely impacted. There should be timely use of Early Warning information to minimize impacts associated with these extreme climate events. Awareness creation amongst the vulnerable communities on what needs to be done in case of the occurrence of these events need to be enhanced.

Research Posts available with African SWIFT

African SWIFT is now advertising for a number of research posts. See our Project News / Opportunities page for full details.

3 posts: Programme Science Director and two expert Research Scientists (ACMAD, Niamey, Niger) Deadline 20 April.

4 posts: Senior Research Scientist, Research Scientist and two Research Fellows (NCAS, University of Leeds, UK) Deadline 24 May.

2 posts: Postdoctoral Research Scientists (NCAS, University of Reading) Deadline 2 May 2018.

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