Droughts, fires, floods and other increasingly frequent extreme events are examples for the growing impact of global climate change. Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents because of lack of observations, high exposure to climate stress and low adaptive capacity. Science is a key factor for addressing these challenges. Solutions strongly depend on scientific knowledge and its transfer towards politics and the society in general. Large amounts of standardised and integrated data, provided by dedicated research infrastructures supporting scientific analyses are an indispensable foundation.
Whereas Europe has mostly well-developed and effectively cooperating research infrastructures and climate services, Africa widely lacks a comprehensive concept and strategy for a successful operation of such infrastructures and services, even though some countries started to develop suchlike. For instance, weather, climate and atmospheric composition observing capabilities in Africa are often sketchy and heterogeneous and not built for a sustainable integration into the operational infrastructures of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services. Thus, meteorological and climatological observational data, and especially data of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants are often not easily and widely available.
To address these issues, an inter-disciplinary Horizon Europe Coordination and Support Action in African-European cooperation called ‘Knowledge and climate services from an African observation and Data research Infrastructure’ (KADI) has been initiated.
KADI aims to provide the conceptual framework for the future implementation of a pan-African Research Infrastructure for science-based services to fully address the requirements of the Paris agreement and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Various partners from Africa and Europe combining diverse experiences, backgrounds and viewpoints are involved in the project. The more specific objectives of KADI contain the design for an All-African climate observation system on the basis of climate services as guiding design principle and an extensive documentation of past and existing observing capability, contrasted with scientifically justified requirements to identify the gaps. Moreover, a dense networking and knowledge exchange approach connecting the important players from the global to the local level will broaden an information network as a basis for a successful and sustainable cooperation. Finally, a solid strategy for the implementation of the provided design which will be realizable as soon as resources become available are presented within the KADI project.
Lessons learnt from Kenya
The KADI project consists of several working packages (WPs). MeteoSwiss is mainly involved in WP 2, specifically a pilot project zooming in on Kenya. The pilot focuses on establishing lessons learnt from existing long-term atmospheric and ecosystems observations in Kenya. Capabilities observing weather, climate and atmospheric composition variables over the past 25 years are documented and assessed, requirements for a Kenyan observation system are reviewed and guidelines for future design are established. Kenya is the ideal showcase due to the already existing infrastructures for atmospheric observations as well as continuous ecosystem flux measurements, and a well-established long-term cooperation with European scientists. Lessons learnt and solution approaches so far include
- Standardized observations in sustainable research infrastructures can overcome some of the issues.
- Sustainability requires long-term commitment of the operating institution at various organizational levels, i.e. from on-site operators to the operators’ supervisors, from science departments to the higher management.
- Twinning programs and personnel exchange between new and established stations or laboratories can be effective to advance and transition new monitoring capabilities into full operation.
Specific support activities may include advice for instrument selection, technical support / advice to set up, measurement capabilities, regular on-site training, remote support / trouble shooting, facilitating the provision of spare parts, support for data processing / data submission, support for (research) proposal writing and support for scientific data analysis and publication.
There has already been strong Swiss-Kenyan cooperation over the past decades. MeteoSwiss has supported the ozone monitoring program at the Kenyan Meteorological Department (KMD) headquarters in Nairobi for over 25 years in support of the WMO/GAW and the NASA SHADOZ programs. Moreover, Swiss experts from Empa, PSI and MeteoSwiss have supported the atmospheric monitoring at the Mount Kenya station since the early 2000s through the Swiss GAW-GCOS programme.