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The Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is working with Africa Gathering to roll out a network of 20,000 affordable weather stations through the Trans-African Hydro-Metrological Observatory (TAHMO) initiative. This monitoring network will replace a rapidly deteriorating system, and it’s expected to be a vital tool for tracking of climate change in the continent.

TAHMO, Delft University of Technology, Africa weather, weather monitoring stations, WMO, UN climate change, Professor Van de Giesen

At a UN Climate Change conference, Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) explained that the current series of weather monitoring systems in Africa are “deteriorating and require improvement if we were to meet the challenges of climate change. The weather observation system had been experiencing problems and 1 in 4 weather stations in East and Southern Africa do not “function well at all”.

TU Delft’s project aims to design, build and operate measurement stations in Africa by using mass-produced consumer electronics and the extensive mobile phone coverage in Africa. Professor Nick van de Giesen, an engineer at Delft University of Technology and initiator of the project noted: “The number of measurement stations in Africa are just very, very limited. We need this large network of people on the ground who are willing to think about this, work with us, test things, etc.”

“Africa is huge. I’ve spent a lot of time there, you cannot compare Lesotho with Chad – these are just completely different environments,” he added.

Professor Van de Giesen is encouraging students to design sensors for different elements like rain, dust, smoke and wind. He hopes that these individual projects will be able to overcome the continent’s multiple environments.

“What I’ve noticed myself with African students, especially when they come to the university, is that they are good with math. But when it comes to practical things like measuring, actually measuring things outside, that’s often not as well developed. For the simple reason that they never had the opportunity to go out and measure things. Because the stuff was just not there,” he said.

“Building a curriculum around measuring the environment and understanding how the data relates to the bigger picture can give more practical experience to African students”, van de Giesen added.

+ Delft University of Technology

via Africa Gathering

Images: TAHMO