Nile Forecast Center
The Nile Forecast Center NFC was established as part of the planning Sector of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation in 1992.
The general aim of the NFC is to provide a real-time hydro-meteorological forecasting system for the Nile River Basin. The NFC is mainly funded by the MWRI. It also receives financial supports for specific projects from a number of the development partners to Egypt. Examples of lateral cooperation projects between NFC and development partners are: the implementation of the Monitoring, Forecasting and Simulation project (MFS) which received fund from the USAID; and technical assistance by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO and international consultants.
The objective of the MFS project from establishing such center was to create an environment and provide tools to utilize the available hydrological and meteorological data and seek additional data in order to forecast the annual Nile inflow to Lake Nasser to help decision-makers decide on the release policy for the coming year.
The MFS project ended in 2002 achieving most of its goals and provided the NFS as the main tool for forecasting Nile inflows to Lake Nasser. A control model simulating the High Aswan Dam operation was also developed.
Among the development partners who support the NFC is the Dutch Government. It funded a project called “Lake Nasser Flood and Drought Control/Integration of Climate Change Uncertainty and Flooding Risk” LNFDC/ICC followed aiming at enhancement of the existing facilities within the NFC of the Planning Sector, to aid the Egyptian MWRI in setting scenarios for risk assessment due to floods, droughts and climate change. The enhancement of the existing facilities includes the support in the development of a series of computer tools at the NFC that can be used to carry out the studies as well as training in their use.
The enhancement also included capacity building on climate change assessment, risk assessment as well as environmental modeling and water resources management. Finally, the enhancement of the existing facilities incorporated the recoding of the existing NFS such that it is now maintainable by the local staff with support of local consultants.
The most important benefit of the NFC and its MFS is the ability to simulate the consequences of changes in the River system and in the climatological and hydro-meteorological regime of the Basin. The NFC is developing and using hydrologic models that simulate the complete water balance for the entire Nile Basin. The simulation ability developed would allow assessing the consequences for Egypt of planned or actual water abstractions and of works across the river in the upstream countries, in order to plan appropriate adjustment measures.
The same consideration applies to accurate assessment of the results of water conservation projects in the wetlands and marshes of the middle basin. In this context, the overall Nile simulation models could potentially contribute and play an important role in promoting regional cooperation by providing a reliable technical tool for settling conflicting water interests in the Nile Basin.
Uniqueness of Nile Forecasting Issue depends on producing reliable forecasts of the Nile River in Egypt is not that simple and it is possible to say that this represents an extraordinary task in many respects. Looking from Egypt’s prospective, what makes the Nile catchment unique when hydrological forecasts of inflows into the High Aswan Dam, this could be the question. Forecasting of inflows into the High Aswan Dam reservoir exclusively depends on rainfall-runoff and runoff/runoff stream flow processes occurring outside Egypt, i.e. in the areas which are inaccessible for direct monitoring, measurements, and real data communication to the forecasting center.
The NFS consists of hardware, software, and hydro-meteorological models. The philosophy behind the NFS is utilizing the remote sensing technology provided by METEOSAT satellite for estimating the spatial rainfall distribution over the main Nile river catchments. A series of hydrological models is being used to simulate the soil water exchange interface. Furthermore, the NFS through its distributed features is capable for producing a flow hydrograph at any predefined location along the Nile course.
Figure 5 shows the general concept and schematic of the NFS. Capabilities reached so far at the NFC, in terms of both technology and know-how, enables to perform a series of operational activities in real-time mode. Thus, the Center is capable of :
- Monitor meteorological and hydrological conditions in the Blue Nile and Atbara Basins;
- Perform different types of processing and management of the received data;
- Analyze different outputs from the NFS, PDUS, and MDD system; and finally produce and distribute to users a regular Nile Forecast Center Bulletin containing relevant data, information, deterministic and forecasts of river flow regime along the Blue and Main Nile rivers.
- Set different alternatives and scenarios for managing the whole Nile basin, in a way that benefit all Nilotic countries.
Figure (5): General Concept of NFS
The NFC is one of the Hi-Tec centers in the MWRI utilizing advanced technologies including remote sensing and GIS for collecting and maintaining data and maximizing their use to provide inputs to distributed hydrological and meteorological models that forecast the Nile flood. The Nile Forecast System contains a number of program modules, utilities, and integrated Nile Scripts. These may be grouped into a number of basic components:
A) METEOSAT Reception Unit;
B) Climate Monitoring and Rainfall Estimation;
C) Statistical Models for Forecasting;
D) Decision Support System for HAD;
E) The Rainfall Estimation; f) The MESO-ETA Model Applications;
G) The Hydrological Simulation Models;
H) Forecast Modules;
I) High Aswan Dam Decision and Control System;
J) Nile Basin Hydro-meteorological Information System (NBHIS); and
k) GIS Database.
Following are some pictures of NFC activities.