Hama Hamidou is a meteorology instructor at the African School of Meteorology and Civil Aviation (EAMAC), teaching French-speaking meteorologists in Africa how to use satellite imagery in their aviation forecasts.
05, November 2020
For the last four years Hama has been a meteorology instructor at the African School of Meteorology and Civil Aviation (EAMAC), teaching French-speaking meteorologists in Africa how to use satellite imagery in their aviation forecasts. He is also part of the ASMET team, responsible for producing online training modules for Africa (in both English and French).
In 1996 EAMAC, based in Niamey, Niger, started training operational forecasters and other users of satellite meteorology for 26 Frencophone, Lusophone, and Hispanophone-speaking countries in Africa, following an agreement with EUMETSAT and WMO.
Hama said: “Before the use of Meteosat Second Generation data, people in our area used to call forecasters liars. Now that has changed.”
EAMAC satellite training activities include teaching IT personnel how to maintain the systems needed to access satellite products. The centre also organises seminars, international conferences and workshops, in collaboration with other agencies such as EUMETSAT and WMO.
Hama’s interest in satellite meteorology started while studying meteorology at university in the late 90s. After nine years as forecaster at the Weather Watch Centre of Niamey Airport, he joined EAMAC as a meteorology instructor and now teaches others how to use satellite data.
He said: “Before you can forecast high impact weather you must have good training and adequate data and products. With satellite data we can see the weather in areas without other observations.
“Satellite products represent the most reliable observational platform for most African NMHS, where in situ observations are very few. Most of the data we use for training meteorological personnel comes from EUMETCast.”
Using Meteosat data from EUMETCast, received via PUMA stations, EAMAC uses a four step approach to teach forecasters:
- The basic principles of satellite remote sensing.
- How to combine data and products.
- How to use satellite data to check the accuracy of NWP models.
- How to use satellite products together with other data (synoptic observations, NWP products, etc) in a forecast process to infer the future state of the atmosphere.
Hama explains: “There is a lot of data, so it is important that we show people how to rationalise it. Some of the products we receive from EUMETSAT have been validated over Europe, so we need to re-evaluate them at a local level. This is an important skill we teach.
“Our training activities in satellite meteorology are designed to ensure an effective and efficient use of satellite products by the African NMHSs. The support of EUMETSAT has been a key factor in making these activities a success – both in terms of training and how people now trust forecasters.”
Hama continues: “I have been in a village in Niger and seen the locals discussing the satellite imagery and forecasting what they thought was going to happen during the weather bulletin of TV. They might not realise that those images are why they can now have more trust in the weather forecasts, but they are aware that they are being used.”
In the future Hama would like higher spatial resolution and dedicated products which will help forecasters better predict wind shear (one of the main causes of aviation accidents) and detect volcanic ash.
“I don’t think we’d be able to continue to do what we do without satellite data from Europe,” he concludes.