Many studies in the field of weather and climate predictions demonstrated the benefit of weather and climate information if this information is used for decision making. Currently, one of the most important sources of information used by West African policy makers is seasonal climate and weather forecasts. This information can help end users in different socio-economic sectors such as agriculture, water resources management to advice on seasonal strategies and to improve livelihood of local communities.
In addition, weather forecasting is an important support for daily or weekly strategies. However, current seasonal and weather forecast issued by the weather services in West Africa need to be improved in many ways to be more efficient for the users:
- The infrastructure needed for the operation of forecasting system is either not available or not state-of-the-art;
- Techniques for the prediction of important local surface variables are not available or limited;
- Forecasting techniques are not adapted to the specific user needs (lead time, temporal and spatial resolution) so that they cannot use the information for development of suitable adaptation strategies;
- The uncertainty of weather and short-term climate predictions is not described in a suitable way because no technique has been implemented, so far.
To address these problems, statistical and dynamical techniques will be developed in close cooperation with the African Centre of Meteorology Application and Development and the national weather services in West Africa to enhance the existing operational weather and seasonal climate forecast systems for the West African region. The advancement of the techniques will focus on hydrological and agricultural relevant variables such as the onset of the rainy season or the length of the rainy season. Additionally, forecasting techniques will be developed for the prediction of climate indices that are needed for the detection of extreme events such as droughts or floods.
The integral part of this modeling system will be regional numerical weather prediction models that transfer the information of global forecast model to the local scale to provide weather forecasts in high spatiotemporal resolution for the target regions. Additionally, statistical forecasting techniques will be developed to adapt the forecast information provided by the regional models. They are needed to quantify the inherently uncertainty of weather and short-term climate predictions, in particular for the prediction of extreme events. They also play a crucial role for the development of forecasting methods to provide seasonal climate forecast. The decision making process will be analyzed to develop guidelines that support the use of seasonal climate and weather forecasts characterized by a high uncertainty. Throughout the research activities several workshops will be organized to identify the specific needs of the West African weather services and to integrate this information into the modeling development. Finally, a training course will be organized in collaboration with the members of the Competence Centre. This training course will be offered to the experts of weather services and further climate and weather research institutions that are involved in WASCAL to transfer the research outcomes and the novel techniques to practice.