Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory Project

30-10-2013
Project
Monitoring the weather in Africa can be a challenge for climate scientists in Africa, where there are very few observation networks. More accurate data would help understand the African climate and the possibilities the continent offers for agriculture and other water-related activities.
TU Delft TAHMO project

Design, build and operate no less than 20,000 inexpensive and robust weather stations across Africa. That is the aim of TAHMO, a joint initiative by TU Delft and Oregon State University.

TAHMO tries to integrate science with education: the weather stations would be placed at schools and integrated in the educational programs. In this way, African children could be educated about their own climate as well as how to take measurements.

 

A network of 20,000 hydro-meteorological stations

The idea behind this project is to build a dense network of hydro-meteorological monitoring stations in sub-Saharan Africa; one every 30 km. This entails the productions of 20,000 such stations. By applying innovative sensors and ICT, each station should cost not more than $200. The stations would be placed at schools and integrated in the educational program. The data will be combined with models and satellite observations to obtain a very complete insight into the distribution of water and energy stocks and fluxes.

Within this project, we have built a prototype of an acoustic disdrometer (rain gauge) that can be produced for €10, less than one percent of the cost of a commercial equivalent with the same specifications. The disdrometer was developed in The Netherlands and tested in Tanzania for a total project cost of €5000.

Listen to the rainfall recording from Tanzania.

 

Relevance

Monitoring Africa's environment is an important challenge if the continent's resources are to be used in an optimal and sustainable manner. Food production and harvest predictions would profit from improved understanding of water availability over space and time. Presently, the African observation network is very limited. National governments and regional planners do not have the data to make proper decisions regarding investments in water resources infrastructure.

 

Needs and limitations

The need to be able to access historical climate data is critical in order to efficiently manage water resources. Currently there are stations available in Africa, but they are very spread out, and mostly clumped in northern and southern Africa, leaving huge data gaps in central Africa. The Current African Climate Data that is available  is not arranged in a convenient way for the user to access. The sites that we have gathered have incomplete data sets or only a select few variables of interest. Even if there are weather stations available, this does not ensure that the data will be shared with the public. Many times there is a lack of communication where the collected data is not shared publically, regionally or nationally. This creates data gaps at multiple levels. Another issue, which could be the most important, is that historically data was recorded on paper, and has not been cataloged electronically. With this data literally sitting somewhere, we run the risk of losing this data forever. Accurate climate data is essential for agriculture, weather prediction and climate modeling. With an increase in quantity and quality of climate stations, we can move forward towards the goal of obtaining accurate climate data.

 

Commitment to the Public

The TAHMO project is committed to serving the public by advancing the free and open exchange of hydro-meteorological data collected with its monitoring stations. By allowing that all raw TAHMO data be free for scientific research and governmental applications, the project supports World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Resolution 40 and Resolution 25. Commercial applications of TAHMO data will be considered on a case by case basis.

WMO Resolution 40 on the facilitation and co-operation of observing networks and the exchange of meteorological information is of interest to the international community, governments, and researchers alike. It states, “As a fundamental principle of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and in consonance with the expanding requirements for its scientific and technical expertise, WMO commits itself to broadening and enhancing the free and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological and related data and products.”

Similarly, the TAHMO project supports WMO Resolution 25, which “adopts a stand of committing to broadening and enhancing, whenever possible, the free and unrestricted international exchange of hydrological data and products, in consonance with the requirements for WMO’s scientific and technical programmes.”

Allowing for free access to TAHMO monitoring data will also serve the public by beginning to bridge the existing data gaps for hydro-meteorological data in Africa and increasing the communication and application of this important information.

Funding

Funding description

One of the key aspects of TAHMO is to make the initiative financially sustainable by developing and rolling out viable business development.

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Topics

Agriculture
Water Management
Other

Cross cutting

Impact assessment
Monitoring and Evaluation

Keywords

Africa
monitoring
weather
TAHMO
TU Delft

Country

Africa