African Capacity Building in Satellite Altimetry with the UNESCO-Bilko Programme
Val Byfield(1) , Colette Robertson(1) , David Kirugara(2) , Doug McNeall(1) , and Naoise O'Reilly(1)
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton,
Southampton SO14 3ZH,
(2) Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, P.O. Box 81651, Mombasa, Kenya
Capacity building in remote sensing is an important component of the first 5-year plan of GOOS-Africa, which began in 2004. Training future scientists and environmental managers in the use of satellite data is part of this strategy. With this in mind, the UNESCO-Bilko programme, supported by IOC and the European Space Agency, has begun developing teaching material for use in both distance learning and through workshops and courses across Africa and world-wide. In September 2004 a satellite altimetry workshop for environmental scientists and coastal managers from Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique and Tanzania was held at the Luigi Broglio Space Centre in Malindi, Kenya. The workshop was based on material from remote sensing short courses run at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and used Bilko software and lessons to give participants hands-on experience in the use of satellite altimetry data. Two Bilko lessons were developed for the course, one using altimetry data with tide gauge sea-level data from the Western Indian Ocean, the other a study of eddies in the Somali current using SST and altimetry data.
The Bilko software is well suited for the African capacity building effort. Bilko is easy to use, demands only moderate computer resources, and supports a number of data formats commonly used in remote sensing, including NetCDF, HDF, USGS MapGen format and Envisat N1 format. It is specially written for educational use, supported by lessons that exemplify its power and which come complete with the images and other files needed. The lessons provide a step-by-step approach to data visualization and processing through hands-on activities supported by background information that makes them suitable for users working alone or in groups without direct access to remote sensing expertise. All components are free to registered users.
The successful Malindi workshop was the first in a series of remote sensing training courses planned jointly by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, with support from the IOC Regional Programme for the Western Indian Ocean (IOCWIO), the Western Indian Ocean Satellite Applications Project (WIOSAP), the ODINAFRICA project (Ocean Data and Information and Information Network for Africa), and the Italian Space Agency. Other African training initiatives are also under development.