Minister Molewa launches North West University Lekwena Weather Radar in Potchefstroom

Event date: 
2018-03-22 (All day)

Introduction and ackground
Goals and objectives
Acquisition, installation and upgrade of weather radar


Introduction and background


Weather and climate impact every aspect of society. The weather radar is the quintessential tool for observing thunderstorms in real-time and using this information to manage and mitigate the impact of this hazard. South Africa has a long history in radar science and currently boasts a world-class national network of cutting edge radars operated by the South African Weather Service (SAWS). This project aims to support SAWS towards sustaining and making the most of this valuable resource.

Students from multiple disciplines will get hands-on experience working with this technology, creating awareness around the benefits and potential use of weather radar, and lastly to do applied research that could help create products and services that can be rolled out on the national radar network. Providing scientists access to this technology in a semi-operational, real-time environment will narrow the gap between research and operations and ensure that new services make their way to the national radar network.

In our National Intended Contribution tabled with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, South Africa committed to enhance its early warning system. The enhancement of early warning systems, protecting local communities from extreme weather events, and promoting climate smart agriculture practices are important  in an era where we are working as a government through the National Development Plan to transition the country to an environmentally stable, climate change resilient, low-carbon economy and a just society by 2030





This event comes in an important month in the environmental calendar as we join the international community in commemorating World Meteorological 
Day, marked annually on 23 March. The theme for this year is: “weather-ready, climate-smart”, and the programme we are launching today will make sure that we will indeed stay weather ready and climate smart.



Goals and objectives 


The Lekwena Radar Climate Change Monitoring Programme is relevant to the implementation of the National Framework on Climate Services (NFCS), which is in its final stages, and was developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs in collaboration with the South African Weather Service. 

The overarching goal of the NFCS is to enable better management of the risks of climate variability and change at all levels, through development and incorporation of science-based climate information and prediction services into planning, policy and practice.  The nature of the NFCS requires an interface with different stakeholders within the various levels of government, and outside government. This will ensure a well-coordinated structure with good governance to enhance the country’s capability to provide integrated climate services to all relevant users in a manner that empowers them to be climate resilient.


Benefits of the weather radar


Through this new climate service, government will be able to anticipate natural hazards and take decisions to reduce their impact upfront due to early projections.  As a result, ordinary citizens will receive early warnings thus enhancement of safety.  Other benefits include increasing business profitability and tackling the challenges of public health such as waterborne diseases caused by extreme weather conditions and climate variability.

The programme is also directed at improving productivity, strengthening national economies, protecting the environment and providing a more secure basis for future planning on hourly to multi-decade timescales.


Acquisition, installation and upgrade of a weather radar

The North-West University, along with support from the Water Research Commission and the National Research Foundation has funded the acquisition, installation and upgrade of a weather radar, situated just outside Potchefstroom on the Lekwena Wildlife Estate. Another project (WRC Report No. 2062/1/16) funded by the Water Research Commission established a network of rain gauges in the Mooi River catchment. Other important contributions include the Lekwena Wildlife Estate that made the site available and Aon-Benfield that funded the communication link of the radar.


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