COMET International Capacity Development: Were Not Just About Education and Training Anymore
Gregory Byrd, UCAR/COMET, Boulder, CO
Bruce Muller, UCAR/COMET
Paul Kucera, UCAR/COMET
Martin Steinson, UCAR/COMET
Richard Jeffries, UCAR/COMET

Building upon a rich history of producing world-class geoscience education and training for more than 25 years, the COMET Program recently embarked on a new effort to support international capacity development (ICD) efforts aimed at helping developing countries become weather and climate ready nations. This effort involves working with weather services and key stakeholders to provide effective impact-based decision support to emergency managers and other decision makers.

Funded by USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the NWS International Activities Office (IAO), there are three primary ICD efforts currently underway: IEPAS, 3D-PAWS, and Weather and Climate Ready Nations. IEPAS is the International Extension and Public Alert Systems, a program that researches and undertakes efforts to enhance remote communication of meteorological information, particularly in rural areas. This program addresses a broad range of communication challenges by development of communication tools, training, and management of quasi-operational systems. Regions of Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, and Central America all benefit from IEPAS.

The 3D-PAWS (3D-Printed Automatic Weather Station) effort involves development and deployment of low-cost surface weather stations utilizing 3D printer technology. A very high quality surface weather station can be manufactured in about a week, at a cost of $300-500, using locally sourced materials, microsensor technology, and a 3D printer. Deployment consists of installing a station and providing a 3D printer and training to manufacture additional stations. A developing nation can be empowered to grow a state-of-the-art mesonet at the rate of one station per week for a very low cost. These systems have been deployed in Kenya, Zambia, Barbados, Curacao and the effort is expanding to other regions.

The Weather and Climate Ready Nations initiative involves extending the U.S. Weather Ready Nation concept to developing countries. Using the WMOs Guidelines on Impact-based Forecasting, COMET works with weather services and key constituents to develop comprehensive operating procedures to provide effective impact-based decision support. The process involves extensive interviews and data collection workshops to determine various stakeholders critical needs for decision support during severe weather events. The effort is now underway in Southeastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America.