The overall aim of SEACRIFOG is to develop a roadmap for establishing an effective environmental observation system in Africa. So far, large areas of the African continent remain blind spots in terms of such observations. Several projects or programmes record information that would be important in the context. However, they are typically limited in duration or rather have no long lasting effect and are not evenly spread across the continent. For the roadmap, basic needs for long-term observations need to be clear. It is important to know, which variables are important to adequately evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions and other parameters of interest on the African continent.
Johannes Beck – a SEACRIFOG partner from SASSCAL –tackled this fundamental question. Based on literature reviews and consultation of experts, he started to put together a set of variables using a specially developed web-based collaborative inventory tool. The next step was a distant team working process. Experts of the project consortium gave their feedback on each variable aiming for a set of optimally useful, while at the same time feasible and cost-efficient set of variables. Furthermore, the project partners nominated other experts for more online-input. The full report about the variables rating can be accessed on the SEACRIFOG webpage.
This tool allows the capturing of information on observation networks/infrastructures and existing data products, as well as subsequent analysis, e.g. to determine the spatial coverage of existing observation networks. We consider this web-based tool to be a powerful approach to pool the expertise and facilitate remote collaboration by a large group of contributors. We further expect to draw valuable lessons from this collaborative process to further improve the tool and develop additional functionality. Future possibilities include expanding this approach to other applications. Full access of the web-tool is currently restricted to registered users. Potential contributors such as researchers in environmental science and earth observation are, however, encouraged to register and add their expertise. The tool can be accessed at: seacrifog-tool.sasscal.org/