The Department of Environmental Affairs recently launched a state-of-the-art Weather Radar aimed at developing infrastructure and building capacity to improve rainfall estimation from multiple platforms that will be freely accessible to the scientific community.

The radar, which was launched at the North West University (NWU), is located 10 kilometres north-east of Potchefstroom and was purchased from the United States by the NWU where it was then installed at the Lekwena farm, to improve accessibility to the network.

The NWU Lekwena Weather Radar is a result of the 3-year study commissioned by the Water Research Commission to develop a rainfall estimation algorithm, using rainfall data from the new dual polarized Doppler radar and validate it against a dense rain gauge network.

Understanding triggers of climate change

Speaking at the launch Dr Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, said that 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.

“The radar will not only assist our researchers and scientists, but all South Africans as it will provide real-time data that will be interpreted into usable information pertaining to climate change and weather conditions. This radar technology brings a substantially improved weather observation network for our country,” she added.

Real world socio-economic impact

Because the monitoring and forecasting of the climate and weather monitoring has huge implications for a number of sectors including agriculture and water resources – the results from the NWU Lekwena Radar are expected to have real world socio-economic impact on issues such as; flash flooding, drought and other weather-related events.