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Climate researchers from across Africa build their capacity in Python programming at FCFA & GCRF African SWIFT workshop




July 13, 2021


Scientific computing is fundamental to effectively carrying out daily routine tasks in a climate scientists’ world at all levels and cannot be over-emphasised. The Python programming language has become a defacto-standard for data analysis and research, enabling and facilitating work which was previously difficult without it.


In a collaborative effort, Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) and GCRF African-SWIFT organised a one-week online Python workshop (7 – 12 June 2021) for researchers in Atmospheric Science and Meteorology and forecasters at operational weather centres based in Africa with a keen interest in developing their data analysis skills.


Participants at the online Python workshop.


The workshop was a virtual, practical-oriented training targeted at equipping participants with relevant Python programming tools for integrating the Python programming language into workflows at National Meteorological Operational and Research centres, analysing climate data and recreating figures suitable for international peer-reviewed journals. It was facilitated by experienced Python programmers from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi, Ghana), Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet, Accra, Ghana) and the University of Leeds (UK).


The workshop introduced participants to:

  • Python modules and packages of meteorological relevance,
  • Manipulation of climate datasets of various formats using specific Python modules, and
  • Visualisation of climate datasets with Python

A total of 38 participants from various climate-related sectors across Africa were engaged in the week-long workshop. This number, although marginal, is a great step to promoting the culture of effective scientific programming and application within the region, as the participants were drawn from both academic and professional/corporate fields. This is a move to allow for sustainability of the course and its continuity and to create further learning opportunities for the Atmospheric and climate science community in Africa.


The feedback was generally positive, with most participants showing excitement at the opportunity granted to learn Python and its application in the atmospheric science field. The workshop has empowered participants as Python ambassadors within the African climate science community. We all look forward to having future cohorts by reaching many Early Career Researcher’s (ECRs) across Africa. To this end, a slack channel was set-up at the end of the course for continuous engagement with the participants.


Collaborating authors and facilitators of the training: Maureen A. Ahiataku, Marian A. Osei, Dr. Jeffrey N. A. Aryee and Dr. Leif Denby.