Professor Nick van de Giesen of Delft University of Technology received an IBM Technology & Data grant in the form of free super computing power and weather data.

The grant supports Van de Giesen’s initiative to install hydro-meteorological monitoring stations in sub-Saharan Africa – one every 30 km.

The Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) initiative with its planned 20,000 low cost and robust weather stations, is to help the continent improve the understanding of water availability and to improve food production and harvest predictions.

dws-thamo-station-350pxInstallation of a meteorological station in Uganda by TAHMO engineer George Sserwadda

Access to crowdsourced computing power
The IBM grant allows TAHMO to use crowdsourced computing power through World Community Grid and weather data from The Weather Company, which are provided by IBM as part of its Corporate Citizenship program.

The Weather Company provides customized weather information to global commodity traders via its industry-leading WSI Trader website.

In return for this support, TAHMO will publish its African weather data publicly, thereby enabling the global community to benefit from and build upon their findings.

Rainfall modelling in Africa
According to professor Van de Giesen Africa is in urgent need of much more detailed rainfall modelling. ‘African rain storms are erratic and vary strongly from place to place, while many Africans rely on rain for their livelihood.'

Van de Giesen: ‘If we want to come to grasps with rain in Africa, we have to be able to make very detailed calculations of the atmosphere. Such calculations would not be possible with standard computers but IBM’s World Community Grid makes this possible.’

Van de Giesen suggests to divide the continent into many small areas, each area sufficiently small to be calculated by a single computer, so that rainfall throughout Africa can be determined with the necessary detail.

dws-thamo-school-350pxMost TAHMO stations are located in schools where teachers host the station, and gets free access to TAHMO teaching materials and free access to the data from their station.

About IBM's World Community Grid
World Community Grid is an award-winning philanthropic initiative within IBM’s Corporate Citizenship program. Since 2004, World Community Grid has powered 29 research projects in critical areas such as sustainable energy, clean water, ecosystem preservation, cancer, AIDS, Ebola virus, and genetic mapping. This research is made possible by more than 740,000 individual volunteers and 430 institutions from 80 countries who donate unused computing power from their desktops, laptops, and Android mobile devices. 

TAHMO is a not-for-profit organisation that wants to realise a dense network of hydro-meteorological monitoring stations in sub-Saharan Africa; one every 30 km. This asks for 20,000 of such stations.

So far, TAHMO has deployed over a hundred of stations in schools in the African nations of Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

These beta weather stations have been developed over the past years in close cooperation with Meter Group (USA), with special attention to African conditions

This news item was originally published on the website of Delft University of Technology.

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● Expertise: Water and agrifood

More information
Delft, the Netherlands

Two Ghana cocoa-farmers explain the importance of their ground-based weather stations, installed by TAHMO.