African authorities use satellite data to prevent floods in West Africa

Floods are a rapidly growing concern in West Africa, projected to increase with climate change. There is a great need for reliable access to operational flood forecasts and alerts, produced by a robust information and communication system, adapted to regional conditions and operated by capable West African institutions.

The EC-funded FANFAR project aims at building such a system. In this context, Lobelia’s satellite-based water level products of the Niger River basin floodplain are sequentially assimilated into a hydrological model from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) to generate river discharge return periods. These results are then used in SMHI’s flood forecasting and early-warning alert system in West Africa.

The cloud-based Hydrology Thematic Exploitation Platform (H-TEP) operates this flood warning system. Lobelia’s satellite-based, global water level service runs on the H-TEP and is well-suited to complement in-situ sensor networks. It can also be used as a proxy of streamflow, for model calibration and validation as well as for hydrologic data assimilation.

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West African floods