TWIGA brings geo-information on weather, water, and climate together in one platform

Climate change results in more extreme weather events with a great influence on water management in our urban and rural environments. The effects of extreme weather are considerable all over the world. Some regions face long-lasting droughts with severe impacts on crop yields. Other regions of the world face excessive rainfall and associated floods. Some of these events result from atmospheric changes such as stronger meandering of jet-streams and more stable high and low-pressure weather systems than before. On the African continent, with its current one billion inhabitants, the population is expected to double in only a few decades. All these people need access to good-quality water, they need to be protected from floods and droughts, and they need food.

These commodities are lacking and in many cases are totally unavailable, resulting in large groups of people having to move, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Considering the impact of climate change, these problems will only intensify as population numbers continue to grow. Furthermore, these problems are very difficult to analyze, research and quantify without proper data (e.g. historical time-series data sets, real-time data, etc.). Predictions and outlooks for short- and longer-term expectations are difficult to produce without insight in geographical distribution, long time-series and local conditions.

The TWIGA platform brings together data from various sources, such as the in-situ TAHMO stations, numerical weather predictions model data, crop status information such as NDVI, etc. The platform helps to collate, process and disseminate data, products and services to the end user community. The platform acts as a central hub, meaning that developers only need to set-up and maintain a single connection to the platform, after which they can access all of the different TWIGA data sources regardless of their origin. Other data platforms can connect to the TWIGA platform to make the data sources findable and discoverable for a large audience.

TWIGA consortium partners can access TWIGA data sources through either the API of the platform, or through a front-end such as the portal. The comprehensive API is best suited for developers in order to retrieve data, which can be used as input for other geoservices or processes. Whereas the API requires technical knowledge, the platform also has a portal in which end users without a technical background can easily access a wealth of information in personalized dashboards. An example of a personalized dashboard is shown in Figure 1, where data from TAHMO stations are presented in several maps and charts.

Figure 1 A personalized dashboard in the TWIGA platform. The top map shows the locations of the TAHMO stations. The map on the bottom left shows a selection of TAHMO stations in Kenya, each of the selected stations is colored automatically based on the precipitation sum of a given period. The graph on the bottom right shows the precipitation time-series of a TAHMO station.

The portal provides end users with many different tools to easily view data and -services and create dashboards. Users can also combine different data sources which can help in uncovering previously unknown relations between data. An example of combining data is shown in Figure 2 where rainfall estimates over South-Africa from satellite information are combined with the rain gauge network (red dots) and GPS based water vapor monitoring by stations (green dots).

Figure 2 A personalized dashboard in the TWIGA platform. The map shows rainfall estimates from satellite information, locations of the raingauges from the South African Weather Service (red) and locations of GNSS stations used for water vapor monitoring (green).

The TWIGA platform with both the API and the portal ensure the delivery of long-term data and information to users in order to address the challenges they face in making operational decisions based on reliable data and decision-support systems.

Written by Marcel Alderlieste