2 April 2013
Working in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and University of Reading we have developed a new bespoke one-year course specially for students from national weather services in developing countries — an MSc in Applied Meteorology and Climate with Management.
Over the years, the Met Office has worked with the WMO through the UK Voluntary Cooperation Programme (VCP) to sponsor students from national weather services in developing countries. Students can study at universities, both in the UK and abroad, across different subjects from meteorology to business.
Increasingly, people around the world are recognising the need to integrate relevant climate information into planning, policy and practice. Recognising this, and incorporating positive feedback from previous graduates, we were able to develop a new bespoke course in partnership with the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. The new course combines scientific studies with management, helping students to develop their skill sets so they can provide better weather and climate services.
The first of these new courses ran from October 2011 to September 2012 with six sponsored students from national weather agencies in developing countries, including Bhutan, Cameroon, Lesotho, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
One of the students, Elisha N. Moyo from Zimbabwe, works as a Senior Meteorologist at the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe (MSD). Specialising in climate applications Elisha is the Officer in Charge of Climate Change at MSD, and is clear about how the course has helped him develop:
"The course increased my understanding of meteorological science as well as my confidence when presenting on weather and climate-related issues. It provided me with links to renowned scientists in leading institutions such as the Met Office, University of Reading, and improved my understanding of the WMO network and its role in strengthening budding scientists in developing countries."
"The course increased my understanding of meteorological science as well as my confidence when presenting on weather and climate-related issues."
The MSc provides the necessary foundation and principles required for weather and climatological studies and related operations. Diverse areas of study are offered through optional modules such as climate change, tropical meteorology, statistics, hazardous weather, environmental data exploration and visualisation.
Students choose modules according to their personal research interests and national meteorological and climatological needs, often addressing issues relevant to specific geographical locations and national circumstances. The new course also sets out a framework for research or further studies after the course, including PhDs.
It is not just individual students that benefit - entire national weather services gain by enabling students to contribute to projects, as Elisha describes:
"Through enhanced capacity within the department, we are now involved in climate adaptation projects. Our operational sections are already being positively impacted as we are now employing the latest technologies and cutting edge science in product development and service delivery."
By getting involved with climate modelling on the course, Elisha is now involved in the Third National Communications process of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Climate Change Hub and other initiatives such as working with the National Climate Change Coordinator and office. The course also increased the Department's research capacity, helping it to study the tornado-like storms affecting northern parts of Zimbabwe.
Although he is already reaping the benefits, Elisha sees the course going from strength to strength.
"If in future the course includes more leadership courses, and application options such as agro-meteorology, hydrology as well as those which increase the meteorologist's influence on climate policy and decision-making, it will be even more beneficial as there is a tendency to multi-task in our developing national weather services, hence we need diverse skills."
Tayba Buddha Tamang
Tayba explains how things have changed after completing the course:
"I now have the full responsibility of the daily Weather Forecasting Unit. Now the forecasting is in my hands, I am satisfied that what I learned during the course is very helpful in dealing with weather and climate. Overall I gained knowledge on how to deal with staff in an organisation. The Department benefited by getting a meteorologist who will be the key person for developing weather services in Bhutan."
Trinidad and Tobago
"For me, the programme has assisted in closing the knowledge and technological gaps in specific areas. My understanding of the relationships between natural and social sciences was enhanced through several approaches to climate change and the related socio-economic implications. The programme also covered how to respond to climate change impacts; how to influence and promote policy decision and planning for climate change in the long term."
The MSc was also relevant to the development needs of Trinidad and Tobago meteorological service. "The exposure provided the skills for development as a consulting meteorologist which better enable the department to participate in sustainable development with specifically designed programmes such as climate change impact assessment on agriculture, tourism industry, water resources, and coastal zones," says Kenneth.
"Ultimately, the course improved capacity to enhance science by applying the theoretical and analytical concepts and techniques of meteorology and climatology gained to that of sustainable development policies and socio-economic applications both nationally and regionally."
Yontchang Gervais works for the Cameroon National Department of Meteorology as the National Head of Service for Forecasting and the National Head of Service for Met. assistance for Transport's safety.
"The course increased my skills in managing services and projects, communicating scientific information to an audience or various media, and producing research papers in meteorology or in climate related fields," says Yontchang.
"These skills enabled me to deal more efficiently with tasks within my national department as well as in African meteorological organisations."
The course also benefitted the National Department of Meteorology in Cameroon. As Yontchang puts it: "They can count on my ability to take further responsibilities as a leader and, at the same time, I can transfer skills to other members of staff through team work discussions, seminars and workshops. They can also rely on my wide network of partners' expertise within the University of Reading, Met Office, Royal Meteorological Society, WMO and so on. Together we can overcome many challenges that we face throughout our diverse assignments."
"The course improved my scientific and managerial critical thinking. My research and professional skills are strengthened and I can now confidently undertake scientific studies. It increased my network of people in the field by exposing me to a community of world renowned climate scientists."
Reflecting on how the course has helped his organisation, Mokoena says:
"The programme has introduced me to a number of advanced tools and methods for analysing, manipulating and visualising climate data which will improve service delivery and quality products by the department. Knowledge gained on scientific research and report writing will be very useful as the department is a research institution and produces a lot of reports on the prevailing climate and climate change. These studies will not only reflect understanding of atmospheric science and its application but also a high level of professionalism."
This video describes why it is important to invest in weather services in developing countries.
- Find out more about the Voluntary Cooperation Programme