Africa Rainfall Project

What if your computer could run simulations of rainstorms in sub-Saharan Africa, and these simulations could be used to help farmers successfully raise their crops?



In sub-Saharan Africa, 95 percent of agriculture depends on rainfall, which makes accurate weather forecasts absolutely crucial. However, because rainfall in this area is often localized—sometimes almost at the level of one farm—it's difficult to forecast accurately with satellite data, which show larger weather patterns.

Proposed Solution

Through the Africa Rainfall Project, researchers at Delft University of Technology will create high-resolution computer simulations of localized rainstorms in sub-Saharan Africa. Because they'll use massive, crowdsourced computing power from World Community Grid, they'll be able run simulations at a much higher resolution—exactly what's needed for localized rainstorms. This has never been done for rainstorms in this region.

As the researchers for the Africa Rainfall Project receive the results of these simulations, they'll be compared with rainfall data from The Weather Company, satellite data, and ground observations. This will help scientists better understand these storms and improve forecasting models. Ultimately, this can lead to more accurate rainfall forecasts for sub-Saharan Africa. In turn, this could give farmers more timely information about when to plant, help them obtain insurance, and become more resilient in the face of climate change.

How You Can Help

As a World Community Grid volunteer, you download a secure software program to your computer. And when your computer is idle or not using its full computing power, it will run a simulated experiment in the background. Then, your computer contacts the World Community Grid server to let it know that it has completed the simulation, which is then uploaded to our server. All of this happens unobtrusively, while you are going about your regular activities such as typing an email, browsing the internet, or while your computer is idle but left on.

World Community Grid receives the results you send back (often called work units or research tasks), combines them with hundreds of thousands of results from other volunteers all over the world, and sends them to the Delft research team. The researchers then begin the difficult work of analyzing the data. While this process can take years, it accelerates that would otherwise take decades, or might even be impossible.

"This is the first time we'll be able to map most of Africa for a whole rainy season, which has never been done before at this level of resolution," says Professor Nick van de Giesen, principal investigator for the Africa Rainfall Project.

Join World Community Grid today so you and your computer can help accelerate this vitally important research.