Interview with Africa Rainfall Project team

Learn about the current state and future plans of the Africa Rainfall Project through this brief interview

Dear volunteers, we have something a little bit different for you today. While we are working towards the full restart of the World Community Grid, we thought now would be a great chance to remind the community about the amazing teams we collaborate with and what WCG means to them. To start, we asked the Africa Rainfall Project team a series of questions that will answer any questions veteran and new volunteers might have about their research.

Here is what they shared with us:

What does your project aim to do?

The African Rainfall Project seeks to run a numerical weather model for all of Sub-Saharan Africa at the very fine grid of 1km. The reason we use such a fine resolution is that rainfall in Africa is to a large extent generated in so called convective rainstorms that develop at relatively small scales. With such a fine grid, a lot of computing power is needed. WCG is very useful because we can divide this huge task into many small ones. Every task consists of running the model over a small area of 50km by 50km for two days. For all of Sub-Saharan Africa, we need 35,609 areas. 

How was the project affected by the WCG downtime period?

While the WCG was down, we took the opportunity to work on the organization of the data that were already there. Each simulation generates about 60MB of data. As we try to run a full year, we would have 35,609 x 183 = 6,516,447 files with a volume of 390 TB. To make these accessible is a task in itself that we worked on during the downtime.

What has your research achieved so far?

The simulations have covered about 260 days of the total of 366 days. It should be mentioned that we don’t run a forecast because it takes longer than real time to run the model. So we use the results to study how rainfall is distributed and how well it can be modeled with numerical weather models.

What can the volunteers do?

We hope that a similar number of volunteers will contribute as before the WCG downtime. In that case we would need a bit less than one year to finish the project. 

Are there any expansions or new projects being considered for the near future?

We need to really start to look into the data carefully to learn how well we can model weather in Africa. This will take a long time, also given the huge amount of data that has become available thanks to WCG.

Thank you to Prof. Nick van de Geisen for your contribution, as well as the rest of the ARP team for their part in building a better world. Thank you volunteers for enabling this seemingly impossible scientific research to come to life.

The World Community Grid team