Zimbabwe’s meteorological department plans to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

by Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe’s meteorological services department is making efforts to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing  to develop site specific rainfall forecasting models through research.

According to a report released by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management, the capacity to develop numerical weather prediction models in Zimbabwe is very low.

“The project muted to develop a Local Area Prediction System (LAPS) has not taken off because of data problems and lack of capacity,” the report says.

It says given the importance of systematic observation of climate parameters and the need to implement the Global Climate Observing Systems (GCOS) plan, there is need for the country’s meteorological services department to adopt up market technologies.

In order to understand the changing climate, Zimbabwe is taking part in the GCOS activities in monitoring climate by maintaining a systematic observation network.

Meteorological and atmospheric observations in Zimbabwe cover two aspects of the GCOS, the Global Surface Observations (GSO) and the Global Upper Air Observations (GUAO).

The Met services department observation network comprises of 64 stations operating as a basic synoptic network at the World Meteorology Organization (WMO) level.

All stations provide surface data while 14 of the stations have been equipped to provide surface and upper air data and participate in GCOS activities. The department heavily relies on Global Circulation Models (GCM) for weather prediction and forecast verification.

The report says the role of the meteorological services department in disaster risk management and climate change response should not be underestimated.

“There is a need to move from weather prediction to risk prevention and the provision of well functioning early warning systems that issue accurate and timely information,” the report says.

It notes that early warnings are important in giving time for reinforcement of existing infrastructure. These have to be supported by hazard response policies and strategies.

Some of the technologies which the met department has been recommended to adopt include:

The Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS).It is reported that acquisition of AWOS and new RADAR has been slowed due to financial constraints.

It is reported that there is need for soil thermometers for monitoring soil moisture, a special component in yield forecasting.

Also needed is a robust database management system that is user  friendly when accessing data with user not being able to dump data on their own machines.

“Efforts are being made to upgrade the current database management system and to merge datasets that are in different formats,” the reports says.

Recommended strategies to develop operations of the met department include strengthening the capacity of the country in climate change observation, data and climate modelling, building a climate change knowledge repository based on reliable data, international best practice and scientific evidence, strengthening the capacity to generate climate information and early warning systems.

Initiatives also include establishing an enabling framework for localized climate change knowledge sharing platforms, strengthening the documentation of and tapping into indigenous knowledge to complement scientific knowledge for climate change adaptation.

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