A good example of the collaborative learning proposed by the VLab is the regular running of Regional Focus Groups (RFGs).
RFGs are online sessions organised by VLab CoEs, where participants (e.g. students, trainers, researchers, practitioners) get together on a regular basis to discuss a chosen topic on satellite imagery and products. Topics are usually presented by a trainer and then discussed with the participants who have the opportunity to ask questions and add comments, new ideas and suggestions.
These online sessions have proved to widen the access to training events and training resources to countries within the regional area of VLab CoEs. The benefits of these events are numerous, most importantly that these learning activities are representative of a practice-based culture, strengthening regional collaboration amongst professionals.
At the moment VLab has three active RFGs. They are the Americas and Caribbean Focus Group, the Australian Focus Group, and the South Africa Weather Discussion. Most of the RFGs offer monthly sessions.
Americas and Caribbean Focus Group
The Americas and Caribbean Focus Group meets once a month to view satellite and other imagery, and share information on global, regional, and local weather patterns, hurricanes, severe weather, flooding, and other interesting phenomena. The Focus Group has support from the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training (VISIT), and the CoEs in Costa Rica and Barbados. The group is composed of researchers, forecasters, trainers, students, and managers – mostly from Central and South America and the Caribbean, with a few from the United States and an occasional few that join in from other parts of the world. They are able to “build capacity” by communicating with others in their disciplines and across disciplines from many different countries to discuss the impacts of forecasts or impacts of broad reaching phenomena such as El Niño. This RFG is bi-lingual, holding discussions in Spanish and English. Recorded sessions are also available (since June 2012), to watch at your convenience. To obtain further information about the activities of the Americas and Caribbean Focus Group, watch recordings or register to participate in the live sessions, please click here.
Australian Focus Group
The Australian VLab CoE has conducted over 100 monthly Regional Focus Group meetings since these commenced in October 2013. These sessions have been delivered principally online on a near monthly basis. The Regional Focus Group meetings are open to anybody with an interest in satellite meteorology and are advertised here.
Since 2019 these Regional Focus Group meetings have also featured during the Asia Oceania Meteorological Satellite User Conference Training Events.
The topics discussed during the RFG meetings include:
• Weather and Forecast Discussions that integrate satellite data into the Forecast Process.
• Tropical and Midlatitude Case Studies. These include:
• The effective use of the 10 minute and more frequent “rapid scan” satellite data
• Applying Red-Green-Blue (RGB) composites and Derived Quantitative Products.
• Presenting useful material from conferences, training, and workshops.
• Advertising the online satellite meteorology training sessions and satellite viewing and rendering resources offered by other meteorological centres.
Presentations have been given by colleagues from several countries across WMO regions V, II, IV, including Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, New Zealand, the USA, and Singapore.
As the Australian VLab CoE is hosted by (BOM/BMTC) so the BOM Operational Forecasters and the BMTC Graduate Diploma of Meteorology students have also contributed indirectly to the content of these VLab sessions. In particular:
• Disseminating feedback from 115 Bureau forecasters pertaining to the use of the new Himawari-8 data during 2015 (check)
• Providing feedback on the challenges in effective remote teaching in satellite meteorology and forecast simulation training of students during COVID-19 restrictions.
• Developing Derived Quantitative Product Quick Guides
• Introducing and providing feedback on the use of 3D stereo satellite image examples utilising GEO-KOMPSAT-2A and Himawari-8 data.
The average participation to these meetings has been more than 30 attendees from across WMO Regions V, II and IV.
The sessions are recorded and made available in the Archive of the CoE Australia website.