February 23, 2012
Oman Centre of Excellence celebrates six years
The meteorological training centre in Oman celebrates its sixth anniversary this year. The Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Muscat trains scientists from Middle East countries how to understand and use satellite data.
Since it opened its doors in 2006, the centre has trained more than 180 weather forecasters and experts in marine and water resource management.
Centres of Excellence for training in Satellite Meteorology are specialised training centres. They form part of WMO-CGMS Virtual Laboratory for Education and Training in Satellite Meteorology (VLab), a global network set up by the World Meteorological Organization to improve the use of data and products from meteorological and environmental satellites. Each centre is sponsored by one or more satellite operating agencies. EUMETSAT sponsors the centre in Muscat, through various training initiatives, including joint training events and training for locally-based trainers.
The training at the centre takes place in cooperation with the Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat and the aims are to:
Satellite observations are available for the Middle East region from EUMETSAT's Meteosat satellites, over Africa and the Indian Ocean, and from Metop.
The courses teach forecasters how to best use the data to provide advice and warnings in their areas of responsibility. In this region dust and dust storms are of particular interest. Next year the Centre of Excellence will start a yearly advanced course on a specific subject — the first being on dust monitoring/forecasting.
The training is delivered by experts from the Middle East and Europe. This year it included a lecture by Dr Fred Prata, from Norway, who is a expert on volcanic ash detection. Volcanic ash is of interest in the area due to the presence of active volcanoes in the Red Sea region and it can affect the global operations of the airlines based in the Middle East.
Humaid Al-Badi, Chief of Remote Sensing, leads the work of the centre, on behalf of the Omani weather service. Speaking about the sixth anniversary, he said: “There is more to do but for us this is a big achievement for the region. Without these courses people would not benefit from the satellite data available. Dust affects famers and oil field operations in the interior of Oman — good warnings enable people to save money by good planning of their operations and local forecasters provide better forecasts as a result of the training. Severe convection can lead to flash flooding, making some wadis (valleys) dangerous to pass through in a vehicle — good warnings prevent people from putting themselves in danger.”
EUMETSAT trainer Mark Higgins said: “The Centre of Excellence in Oman is a nice example of the partnership between EUMETSAT and global users of EUMETSAT satellite data. The centre is growing its competence. We see less and less technical input from European teachers as the local competence grows.”
The VLab is a global training network with currently 12 Centres of Excellence and eight sponsoring satellite agencies, covering all six WMO Regions and six languages.