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The National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia is soon to place a radar system in Bahir Dar City, 578Km North-West of the capital Addis Ababa.
The radar system will significantly enhance the meteorological agency’s data collection capacity, experts say.
The radar system is estimated to cost about four million dollars. The cost is financed by the World Bank.
The project gained momentum following a recent consultative meeting of stakeholders led by the Ministry of Water and Energy.
“We will soon enter a procurement phase. We expect to have the system online very soon,”
Hailu Wudineh, director of public relations at the agency, told Capital.
While it will improve the agency’s capacity to monitor and forecast weather conditions and trends, the project, which is embedded as part of the Tana Beles Hydro Power Project, will help monitor climate changes for the dam.
The self financed half billion dollar multi-purpose hydropower Tana Beles, is the country’s biggest power plant. The Ethiopian Electricity Power Corporation says the operational plant makes up about 20 percent of the country’s energy share, producing 460 megawatts.
“In line with the agency’s vision of providing world class meteorological services to all stakeholders and the public in Ethiopia, the upcoming radar will enable us to improve our data collection capacity to better read and monitor the country’s atmosphere,” says Hailu.
The weather radar can locate precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate its type to determine if it will rain, snow or something else.
Hailu says the upcoming system is state of art and capable of detecting the motion of rain droplets in addition to the intensity of the precipitation will be able to monitor 200Km from the Bahir Dar city location it will be erected.
The agency currently operates about 1200 conventional stations, 25 automatic stations, an upper air observation and upper air Radiosonde instrument placed in Addis Ababa that monitors its surroundings of 20Km vertically.
Integrating the data with the satellite images it receives every fifteen [from the European Union METSAT] the agency currently offers updated short and longer term weather forecasts.
Kinfe Hailemariam, Meteorological instruments and ICT director at the agency, says since January they are offering a high quality detailed climate and related parameters information and analysis of every location during the last 30 years.
“What this means is anybody can go to our website directly, pick any part of the country, and get for free the detailed information about that specific location over the past 28 years. From agriculture investment to a simple choice of sightseeing at any particular time, the available information arms one to make an informed decision,” Kinfe told Capital.
The agency says it offers high quality spatial 10-daily climatology reports, 30 years of gridded rainfall history, and 28 years of satellite rainfall estimations at about 10km by 10km resolution of the country’s topography. It also makes available blended satellite-gauge rainfall over 28 years and temperature grids over 30 years, as well as temperature records over 30 years; all merged from stations and satellites.
“All the information is available at woreda, zone, region, or any point defined by user. The information is available online with statistical tools to analyze the data,” explained Kinfe.
The Meteorological Agency upgraded its service via a website with technical support from the International Research Institute (IRI) of Colombia University, Reading University and financial support from Google Earth.
This service, the first of its kind in Africa, has been recognized by leading scholarly magazines.
Alioune Ndiaye, Special Envoy to the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, visited Ethiopia last week celebrating the World Meteorology Day in March 23 in Addis Ababa.
Ndiaye, who met Minister of Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu and other officials during his visit, says the agency’s service should be emulated across Africa and serves as a benchmark for similar initiatives globally.