Penn State partners with Cape Verde to improve forecasts for fishing industry

Pennsylvania State University

A joint team of faculty and students from Penn State and the University of Cape Verde (UniCV) have been working for the past year to design, build and test low-cost coastal weather stations with an emphasis on the fishing community.

The prototype station has been operational in the landing port in Praia since March after rigorous testing at UniCV.

Gregory Jenkins, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science and director of Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Design with Africa (AESEDA), said the project was born out of the need to protect fishermen, who often risk their lives while providing a valuable food source for their communities.

“After Hurricane Fred passed through the Island of Cape Verde, we realized that the coastlines were extremely vulnerable in terms of the fishermen and their communities,” said Jenkins, who is Penn State lead on the project.

The team will focus on hurricane preparedness, air quality and real-time weather data that is Web accessible. Hurricane Fred reached category 1 strength as it hit Cape Verde in 2015. Coastal weather stations, the team said, will mean more reliable weather data for fishermen and the public.

The effort is funded by the U.S.-Cape Verde University Partnerships Initiative (USCVUP) supported by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassy in Cape Verde.

“This project helps address many of the UN 2030 sustainable goals – such as innovation, life below water and poverty reduction,” said UniCV project lead, professor and vice-rector Sandra Freire. “This project also addresses climate action by ensuring that the fishermen are safe and able to provide a living for their families while producing important protein for the people of Cape Verde on a warming planet from climate change.”

Penn State students and faculty will join the UniCV, Enhancing CV Workforce Development and Capacity Building through Interdisciplinary UniCV-Penn State AESEDA Partnership for 2030, (ELEVAR2030) team for two weeks leading up to the demonstration of the first prototype in the fishing area of Portinho in Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde. A half-day program will be held on Wednesday, May 25, and it will be live-streamed to showcase the project milestones, including a presentation to the U.S. ambassador, university leaders, faculty, and students, followed by a visit to the first deployed weather station in Portinho.

Project leaders said students are an important part of the project because they can demonstrate the skills they learned from the classroom while also having important engagement with the fishing community.

“The students have worked very hard to design the stations, the sensor, and the communication and power systems,” said Mateus Andrade, professor at UniCV. “I am very proud of what they have done and look forward to future projects like this one.”

Future work will include the deployment of 25 weather stations across the Cape Verde islands. The stations will be assembled in Cape Verde.

The Penn State team consist of Jenkins, Mare Sarr, professor of international affairs and co-director of AESEDA; Aara’L Yarber, doctoral candidate of meteorology and atmospheric sciences and Miguel Maquina, undergraduate student in petroleum and natural gas engineering.

Objectives for the team include:

  • Hurricane education during hurricane awareness week
  • Engagement with the fishing community
  • Real-time monitoring of air quality in Sal, Praia and Fogo
  • Development of a website with relevant weather links by UniCV
  • Continued development of mobile phone-based app to providing fishers and the population with weather and air quality information
  • Workforce development skills for UniCV students who design, build and test weather stations and software products for ELEVAR2030

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