Parliamentary Question: DWA: Upper air data


Mr M W Rabotapi (DA) to ask the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs:
(1) Whether upper air data is determined by SA Weather Service (SAWS) by any technology other than upper air soundings; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details of this technology;

(2) whether upper air data is available from SAWS to clients for a fee; if not, why not; if so, (a) who are the persons responsible for providing the data at SAWS, (b) how many clients are currently purchasing this data and (c) what is the nature of the data available?
(1) No. SA Weather Service (SAWS) obtains upper air data using upper air soundings.

However, SAWS also, in partnership with South African Airways (SAA) participate in the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) programme. This programme is designed to relay meteorological observations from the aircraft in flight and during take-off and landing by satellite communication to SAWS. The AMDAR programme improves the amount of real time upper air observations over southern Africa by more than twenty times. AMDAR transmissions are mostly used in forecasting models as a supplement to radiosonde data.

Furthermore, radiance data is obtained through satellite observations.
(2) Yes, conventional upper-air data is available from SAWS to clients for a fee.
(a)The personnel in the Climate Information office in Pretoria, as well as regional Client Liaison Officers in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Bloemfontein are the persons responsible for providing the data at SAWS.
(b)Currently (in the last six to eight months) no client purchased upper-air data. The upper air data is the actual real time observation that depicts the behavior of the atmosphere in space and in time. This data is used with other datasets e.g AMDAR, surface observations, radar, lightening data, etc. as input into the numerical weather prediction models. The models are then used to generate the forecast.
(c)The data is of good quality and upper-air data for some stations is available backdated to 1960.