SWIFT Stakeholder Workshop in Dakar, Senegal

Dakar Stakeholders (Photo Elias Nkiaka)

Following the Ghana workshop in November 2018, this week sees the second African SWIFT Stakeholder Workshop taking place in Dakar, Senegal. The two-day workshop is hosted by SWIFT partners, Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile et de la Météorologie (ANACIM) and is organised by ANACIM and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). As part of African SWIFT Work Package 1, ‘User engagement’, these two SWIFT partners are currently working to improve weather forecasting and warning systems, to help meet the needs of emergency responders and important sectors in Senegal such as agriculture and fisheries. The SWIFT project is keen to engage key stakeholders early in the programme to ensure that stakeholder experience and needs can be used to inform the design of new forecasting techniques, products and services.

Senegal Floods (Photo ANACIM)

Severe weather in the Sahel, such as the 2009 and 2012 floods in Dakar, is often due to intense rain from convective storms, and the recent increase in the number of severe weather events appears to be linked to global warming. This climate change signal indicates that the socio-economic impacts on sectors like agriculture and fisheries are likely to become even more devastating in the coming years. The central aim of the Dakar workshop is to ensure that such weather forecast users can take appropriate action in response to weather warnings issued by national meteorological services. The SWIFT workshop is attended by the Director and forecasters from national meteorological services, high level and technical representatives from key sectors within Senegal, including disaster management, agriculture and fisheries, as well as stakeholders from other climate services initiatives in Senegal including WMO Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), and Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Senegal (GFDRR).

Anticipated outcomes from the workshop include:

  • A better understanding of the impacts of weather by forecasters in national meteorological services, leading to refinement of weather warnings and services.
  • An improved understanding of the uncertainties and issues involved in issuing weather services (i.e. warnings) by users of the forecasts.
  • Enhanced engagement (during the forecasting of an event) between the users and producers of weather services.

Link to further coverage on the ANACIM website

The Dakar workshop is second in a series of four SWIFT Stakeholder Workshops taking place across tropical Africa. In the coming weeks we will report on further events due to take place in Nigeria and Kenya.

Organisations involved in the African SWIFT Stakeholder Workshop in Dakar, Senegal include:

  • ADM Agence de Développement Municipale
  • ANACIM Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile et de la Météorologie
  • ARD Agence Régionale de Développement
  • CEH Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • CSE Centre de Suivie Ecologique
  • DEEC Direction de l’Environnement  et des Etablissements classes
  • DGPI Direction de la Prévention et de la Gestion des Inondations
  • DGPRE Direction Générale de la Planification et des Ressources en Eau
  • MRUHCV Ministère du Renouveau Urbain, de l’Habitat et du Cadre de Vie
  • MWG Multi-disciplinary Working Group
  • CLPA leaders of the local artisanal fishers’ council

First African SWIFT Forecasting Testbed and SWIFT – HyVic Flight Campaign

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.

More information on testbeds

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. 




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.

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