CGNET Customer Highlight: AfricaRice launches online weather database for researchers
Today, Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) announced the launch of their online weather database. AfricaRice built this online weather database to help facilitate sharing of all its weather data with researchers within the Center, partners of the organization and particularly the national agricultural research systems.
Dr Pepijn van Oort, Crop Modeler at AfricaRice, who was deeply involved in building the database said, “The website will provide access to daily weather records owned or distributed by AfricaRice.”
The newly launched database includes historical weather data owned by the Center and daily weather data from weather stations set up in major rice hubs across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It has also daily weather data from public data sources developed and quality-controlled by the AgMERRA project.
To study the agricultural impacts of climate variability and climate change, having access to a long-term weather database is a necessity. Agricultural scientists usually have difficulties obtaining this type of long-term daily weather records from many regions. Sometimes the information isn’t available or it’s incomplete, or worse it’s wrong. Often users must pay high prices or endure drawn-out bureaucratic procedures to get access to the data.
Dr van Oort said, “Such procedures can cause much frustration amongst scientists.” He followed with this statement “The AfricaRice online weather database can be freely accessed, with no restrictions. We are keen to maximize access to reliable weather records and avoid loss of data.”
According to Dr van Oort, the development of the AfricaRice weather database and website started back in 2012, when the Center distributed weather stations to its national partners in the 46 rice hubs set up in SSA. After that, data from AfricaRice research sites in Contonou (Benin), M’bé (Côte d’Ivoire) and Ndiaye and Fanaye (Senegal) were added.
Dr van Oort also mentioned that climate forcing datasets are in a format meant for meteorologists, which isn’t useful for agronomists and plant breeders. So, making sure this data is processed into the same format as the rest of the AfricaRice weather data is what the database accomplished for its users.