#WorldMeteorologicalDay: SA university launches new weather radar to monitor storms

2018-03-23 06:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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YouTube / Andrew Wallis

Cape Town - South Africa's meteorological science field got a big new shiny weather radar on Thursday which can study and quantify storms and precipitation. 

North West University's (NWU) Lekwena Weather Radar was launched by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and the SA Weather Service in Potchefstroom, just in time for the World Meteorological Day on 23 March.

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Not only will this new technology be an important tool for providing real-time data on thunderstorms - which can go a long way in predicting patterns - Lekwena will also provide a hands-on learning experience for students, the forecasters of the future. 

This access will help narrow the gap between academic research and operational use in the field, which has become especially important in a world where climate change has had severe impacts on countries around the world. Radars like Lekwena will improve our early warning systems in order to minimise damage caused by severe weather like the devastating Durban storm last year.

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“With climate change as a major concern globally and South Africa specifically, every effort should be made to monitor and understand its drivers and triggers in order to develop and implement evidence-based mitigation and adaptation strategies,” says Molewa. 

She reiterated that it's also important to raise awareness around climate change issues and to ensure that local communities have access to climate information so that they can be more resilient.

The success of the NWU Lekwena Weather Radar will result in the development of a technology to calibrate South Africa's entire radar network and to develop capacity on rainfall estimation in South Africa., vital information for the country's water crisis.

SA Weather Service's CEO Jerry Lengoasa also announced at the event that they will be launching a new weather app for World Meteorological Day on Friday, which can be used to track storms from your phone.

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You can learn more about the radar in the video below: