Seamless air quality prediction and forecasting are crucial, and in response, international efforts are underway to expand these capacities across Africa. Leading this effort is the Air Quality Prediction and Forecasting Improvement for Africa (PREFIA) project – a collaborative initiative of the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch programme.
Experts and stakeholders came together on 7 to 12 October at the WMO Regional Training Centre in Nairobi for two events designed to advance efforts that will help African countries and decision makers to improve air quality and public health, mitigate the occurrence of acute air pollution episodes, particularly in urban areas – and reduce the associated impacts on agriculture, ecosystems and climate.
This first two-day session included nearly 30 experts and stakeholders from Cameroon, Egypt, Finland, Kenya, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America. They explored several new developments, including initiatives on air quality for Africa, air pollutant emissions over Africa, needs of the African air quality community, updates on the model inter-comparison exercise, and plans for the next phase of the project.
This meeting was immediately followed by a four-day training for forecasters in Africa on “Seamless Prediction of Air Pollution for Africa”, led by instructors from University of Hertfordshire, North Carolina State University and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Participants learned fundamentals and advanced topics in air quality modelling, atmospheric chemistry and aerosol modelling, atmospheric composition observations, emission processing for air quality modelling, data management and model evaluation, downscaling methods, data assimilation and model inputs, integrated urban weather and environment prediction systems and services, and air quality forecasting experiences in South Africa and Egypt.
Much of the training was drawn from the upcoming publication Best Practices and Training Materials for Chemical Weather/Air Quality Forecasting, which is currently being finalized by the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme and the Education and Training Programme (ETRP) of WMO. The draft publication was made available to the participants to test the effectiveness of the materials.
Having an air quality forecast and assessment system in place, along with the required technical capacities, will support governments to improve air quality and public health, mitigate the occurrence of acute air pollution episodes, particularly in urban areas, and reduce the associated impacts on agriculture, ecosystems and climate.
The event also increased the capacity of WMO Regional Training Centres (RTCs) of Africa in teaching air pollution prediction and to engage with universities and institutions worldwide. Participants attended from Algeria (RTC), Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt (RTC), Ethiopia, Finland, France, Ghana, Kenya (RTC), Madagascar (RTC), Rwanda, South Africa (RTC), Spain, United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America.
More information, including the list of participants and presentations for both events, is available on the WMO ETRP platform.