J5.3 Hydrological Modeling and Capacity Building in the Republic of Namibia

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 11:00 AM
Room 343 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Race Clark III, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and Z. L. Flamig and Y. Hong

Since 2012, scientists from the University of Oklahoma (OU) have partnered with the Government of Namibia's Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Forestry (MAWF) to improve flood and drought forecasting and monitoring across Namibia. Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa and is comprised almost entirely of arid and semi-arid climates that experience highly variable annual rainfall, making the country susceptible to economically devastating droughts and floods.

OU's hydrological modeling framework, EF5 (Ensemble Framework for Flash Flood Forecasting), uses satellite estimates of precipitation and/or forecast rainfall from weather models to monitor or predict stream water levels and soil moisture content, both of which are important in producing flood and drought forecasts. EF5 additionally has a hydraulic modeling component. Combined with observations of inundated areas from space borne instruments, this allows for forecasts of the spatial extent of flooding.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Open Cloud Consortium run Project Matsu, a cloud computing service which hosts the Namibia Flood Dashboard. The Dashboard allows users to access water information related to Namibia and the surrounding area, including the weekly flood bulletin from the Namibian MAWF, OU/NASA hydrological model output over select river basins, observed stream flows on several important basins, geo-located satellite images from hydrologically interesting events, and more.

The aim of all these activities is to give Namibian hydrologists the technical expertise to set up, run, use, and interpret the hydrologic model on the Matsu cloud. This capacity building process is now entering its fourth year; several dozen hydrologists employed by the Namibian government, local universities, NGOs, and other stakeholders in the southern Africa community have been trained in the use of EF5. This presentation will trace the history of OU and NASA's activities in Namibia and explain where we plan taking these activities in the next few years. We hope the lessons we have learned from Namibia over the years will prove helpful to other hydrologists and meteorologists intending to pursue their own capacity building activities on the African continent.

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