BSC and AEMET operate the new Early Warning Advisory System for Sand and Dust Storm in Burkina Faso

30 October 2018

This system has been released by the WMO Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS).

An early warning advisory system for sand and dust storms has been launched for the territory of Burkina Faso. Its core is a universally understood product based on colour-coded maps that indicate the risk of high dust events during the next 48 hours.

This system has been designed and is operated by the State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET) and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in collaboration with the Burkina Faso National Meteorological Agency (ANAM). It is released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Sand and Dust Storm – Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) Regional Center for Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe. The warning levels are computed based on the multi-model median forecast product produced by the worldwide participating models in the SDS-WAS Regional Center.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked African country lying in the transition zone between the Sahara to the north and the humid equatorial region to the south. It has a primarily tropical climate with a rainy season from May/June through September, a little shorter in the northern part of the country, and a dry season, when a hot dry wind called Harmattan blows from the Sahara. During the dry season, frequent dust storms are one of the main meteorological hazards affecting the population. Airborne dust presents serious risks for human health. Particles smaller than 10 microns may penetrate the respiratory tract and cause or exacerbate pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, especially among the most sensitive segments of the population (children, pregnant women, the sick or the elderly). Some infectious diseases have also been associated with airborne dust. Outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the thin tissue layer that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, occur worldwide, yet the highest incidence is found in the “meningitis belt”, a part of sub-Saharan Africa extending from Senegal to Ethiopia and including the entire territory of Burkina Faso.

BSC manages together with AEMET one of the nodes of the SDS-WAS, the Regional Centre for Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe. Aligned with the objectives of the Regional Center to facilitate user access to information, BSC is coordinating InDust (International Network to Encourage the Use of Monitoring and Forecasting Dust Products, COST Action CA16202). InDust searches to assist the diverse socio-economic sectors affected by the presence of high concentrations of airborne mineral dust. BSC´s dust research and contribution to the SDS-WAS is supported by the AXA Research Fund through the AXA Chair Programme on Sand and Dust Storms.