TWIGA: Transforming Water, weather, and climate information through In situ observations for Geo-services in Africa
Climate change results in more extreme weather events with a great influence on water management in our urban and rural environments. The effects of extreme weather are considerable all over the world. Some regions face long-lasting droughts with severe impacts on crop yields. Other regions of the world face excessive rainfall and associated floods. Some of these events result from atmospheric changes such as stronger meandering of jet-streams and more stable high and low-pressure weather systems than before. On the African continent, with its current one billion inhabitants, the population is expected to double in only a few decades. All these people need access to good-quality water, they need to be protected from floods and droughts, and they need food.
These commodities are lacking and in many cases are totally unavailable, resulting in large groups of people having to move, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Considering the impact of climate change, these problems will only intensify as population numbers continue to grow. Furthermore, these problems are very difficult to analyze, research and quantify without proper data (e.g. historical time-series data sets, real-time data, etc.). Predictions and outlooks for short- and longer-term expectations are difficult to produce without insight in geographical distribution, long time-series and local conditions.
The objective of the TWIGA project is to provide information on weather, water and climate to millions of users on the African continent active in various economic sectors ranging from agriculture, water, energy, insurance and disaster risk reduction (DRR). The TWIGA platform is a central IT platform which brings together data and information from various sources, such as the in-situ TAHMO weather stations, numerical weather prediction data, crop status information such as NDVI together in a single platform. This TWIGA platform, built by HydroLogic, helps to collate, process and disseminate data, products and services to the end user community in Africa. The platform acts as a central hub, meaning that platform users or (third party) developers only need to set-up and maintain a single connection to the platform, after which they can access all of the different TWIGA data sources regardless of their origin.
Role of HydroLogic Research and HydroNET
HydroLogic has been responsible for the development of the TWIGA platform, which is a continuation and extension of the HydroNET platform. The platform back-end has been extended to accommodate new data types, such has high-resolution timeseries from GNSS stations, NDVI data from drone flights or gridded solar radiations predictions for the entire African continent. The platform front-end (web-portal) has been extended such that it can handle and display all of the TWIGA datasets.
Within the TWIGA project 13 well-tailored services have been developed. These services are aimed at various types of users on the African content. For example, one service focusses on atmospheric conditions using GNSS data aimed at weather institutes. The MapYourCrop service utilizes drone data, and aims to provide tailored information to local farmers. HydroLogic was involved in various services, including the Basin Water Control Room and the Dam Water Balance Service.
The Basin Water Control Room service brings all historic, current and forecasted weather information together in the TWIGA portal. The service provides several dashboards with information on weather and water data and gives the user a direct overview of the entire basin. This service is aimed at catchment management agencies, especially in regions where there are multiple CMAs responsible for the water management in a river basin.
The Dam Water Balance service aims to provide realtime aggregated data for dam reservoirs accessible in the TWIGA Portal. By continually monitoring the amount of available water, it helps the dam operators to decide whether to take necessary actions. For example in periods of prolonged drought, the amount of water released for irrigation can be reduced. In situations where the dams are nearly full, and additional rain is forecasted the operators can release water ahead of time to ensure sufficient storage capacity is available to store the forecasted rainwater.
Many different datasets have been generated within the TWIGA project. For example a network of GNSS stations have been deployed. These GNSS stations are stations which collect the signal from global positioning satellites such as GPS or Gallileo. These signals from the satellites will get delayed by molecules in the atmosphere. Large amounts of moisture in the atmosphere will increase the delay, whereas a clear sky will hardly delay the signals. These delays are measured, and from the information an estimate of the moisture content of the atmosphere is calculated. These near-realtime measurements provide valuable input for Weather Institutes. The weather institutes can integrate these data in their weather models, which in turn improves the quality of the weather forecasts.
In order to o ensure that the datasets which have been collected during the project are also accessible by a larger public, relevant TWIGA datasets have been connected to the GEOSS platform. This GEOSS portal is a central hub for sharing geo information with a wide audience. Within the TWIGA project a connection has been built between the central (HydroNET) platform and GEOSS. As this connection is handled by the central HydroNET Platform, none of the data providers need to worry about setting-up dissemination channels to GEOSS, this is all handled by the central HydroNET platform.
The connection between the central HydroNET platform and GEOSS allows us to distribute relevant datasources directly to GEOSS. This in turn improves the findability of the data and products of TWIGA by the wider public.
The Overarching goal of TWIGA is to provide actionable geo-information on weather, water, and climate in Africa through innovative combinations of new in situ sensors and satellite data from GEOSS and Copernicus. With the 13 geo-services developed within the TWIGA project there is a potential reach of twelve million people. The geo-services provide access to new data and information that would otherwise not have been available or of lesser quality. As a result TWIGA ensures that millions of people can (indirectly) benefit from the services and information products delivered by the project.
TWIGA is funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 776691.