11 March 2020
Mozambique’s coastline is long – about 2,500 km – and experiences periodic cyclones and floods, which are expected to become more severe with climate change. Most of the country’s population and coastal activities are concentrated in a few major urban areas: Maputo, Beira, Quelimane, Nacala, and Pemba. The new national coastal forecasting system, known as FEWS-INAM, covers these five sub-regions in detail and also the southern Inhambane province (which hosts a cluster of fishing communities) in support of port operators, shipping companies, safety agencies and fishing communities along the country’s coast.
*Cover photo is a satellite image of Cyclone Idai in March 2019 (Source: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/144667/tropical-cyclone-idai-aims-at-mozambique) next two maps from the daily FEWS-INAM coastal bulletins depicting wind speed and wave heights.
FEWS-INAM provides 3-day ocean and meteorological forecasts in the form of daily forecast bulletins and text messages to enhance coastal and navigation safety. Forecasts include wave height, period and direction; tide and surge water levels; wind speed and direction; cloud cover, precipitation, air temperature and air pressure. Forecasts are distributed to nearly 200 recipients from various organizations in Mozambique, including ports, fishing communities, NGOs, and consultants. The authorities of the three largest ports in Maputo, Beira and Nacala use the forecasts in their daily operations.
INAM (Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia), Mozambique’s national meteorological institute, manages and hosts the national coastal forecasting system (a.k.a. FEWS-INAM). FEWS-INAM was jointly developed by INAM and Deltares as part of a technical assistance project financed by both the Nordic Development Fund and World Bank Group. The technical assistance is provided by an international consortium led by the UK Meteorological Office, INAM and DNGRH.
Figure 1. INAM Meteorologists during a FEWS-INAM training
FEWS-INAM imports global forecasts from several sources. Meteorological forecasts are obtained from the NOAA Global Forecast System (GFS) and wave parameters (significant wave height, peak period, and direction) from NOAA WAVEWATCH III (WW3). Water levels relative to mean sea level and storm surge forecasts are provided by the Deltares GLObal Storm Surge Information System (GLOSSIS) via an FTP.
Four regional wave models are run every 12 hours using the three global forecasts for boundary conditions. Five detailed wave models are run on the same cycle with boundary conditions from the regional models. Twice a day, at 7am and 7pm, several reports are delivered to email and text message recipients, as described below.
FEWS-INAM is a stand-alone Delft-FEWS application (rather than operator client), which runs on a dedicated PC in INAM’s computational room. The stand-alone system is easy to maintain and debug, which allows the system to be quickly restarted following occasional power outages and internet connectivity issues. This PC is dedicated to the automatic delivery of products to recipients. A second PC located in the forecasting room, is available for hands-on data visualization and queries.
FEWS-INAM is used primarily to automatically disseminate customized products to different groups of recipients. All products were designed iteratively, with ample input from end users. Two coastal bulletins (PDFs) provide information about forecasted meteorological conditions, waves, and water levels. One provides a national summary (2 pages, Figure 2), and a second provides detailed information for several cities along the coast (20 pages, Figure 3). Nearly 200 recipients receive the coastal bulletins. Subscribers are managed easily using a Google Group.
Figure 2. National Summary Bulletin viewed on a mobile device
Figure 3. Detailed Cities Bulletin, selected screenshots viewed on a mobile device
A dedicated maritime bulletin was added later in the project, to meet the unique needs of port operators and other end users interested in offshore maritime conditions. While the coastal bulletins focus on nearshore conditions, the maritime bulletin provides a national overview of meteorological, wave, and water level conditions 50 nautical miles offshore, for the next two days (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Maritime Bulletin: example of first page.
Finally, another type of bulletin, focused on wave conditions and water levels, was designed to meet the needs of fishermen and safety at sea. The bulletins are sent as small image files via text message on the Telegram App (Figure 5), which is like WhatsApp but allows free access to its API.
Figure 5. Example of a Telegram bulletin
From 2018 to 2019, FEWS-INAM transitioned from a development version to an operational version hosted and maintained at the INAM campus in Maputo. INAM is now expanding the recipient base and developing new business models to generate alternative income streams using FEWS-INAM’s products. This would help the long-term sustainability of the agency and their ongoing work related to coastal early warnings and navigation safety in Mozambique.
Coastal Engineer and Forecaster