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  • Director of Hong Kong Observatory highlights Observatory’s latest developments

  • Friday, 23rd March 2018

The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming, reviewed the weather of Hong Kong in 2017 and elaborated on the weather outlook this year, as well as the Observatory’s upcoming initiatives at a press briefing today (March 23).

Mr Shun pointed out that the World Meteorological Organization ranked 2017 as one of the three warmest years on record. The annual average Antarctic and Arctic sea ice extents in 2017 were the lowest and the second lowest in the satellite record respectively. The average temperature of the Arctic region this February will likely break the highest record for the month.

Locally, the weather in Hong Kong was warmer than usual in 2017 with an annual mean temperature of 23.9 degrees, which is on par with 2002 as the third warmest year since records began in 1884. The daily maximum temperature of 36.6 degrees recorded on August 22 at the Observatory was an all-time high. A record-breaking temperature of 39.0 degrees was also recorded in the New Territories. There were 41 Hot Nights and 29 Very Hot Days in Hong Kong in 2017, ranking the highest and the sixth highest on record respectively. Mr Shun emphasised that the prominent trend of climate change was a matter of major concern.

Regarding the annual weather outlook of Hong Kong for 2018, after considering a number of factors including the status of La Niña, climate model predictions and other objective guidance, it is expected that five to eight tropical cyclones will come within 500 kilometres of Hong Kong, which is normal to above normal. The tropical cyclone season will probably start in or before June. Under the effect of global warming, the annual mean temperature in 2018 is expected to be above normal, with a medium chance of reaching the warmest top 10 in records. The annual rainfall is expected to be normal to below normal, but Hong Kong would still be affected by heavy rain. Members of the public are reminded to be prepared for the coming rain and typhoon seasons. The Observatory will continue to monitor sea surface temperatures of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific for the assessment of La Niña. According to the latest information, even if a La Niña event is established this spring, it is expected to be weak and short-lived.

Mr Shun also announced today the launch of the Observatory’s Facebook page and Instagram platform to enhance communication with the public through social media. The Observatory will release Facebook posts on weather information, and introduce various weather phenomena through the use of photos, videos and computer animation to enhance public understanding of the weather. For the Instagram platform, the Observatory will focus on sharing of photos and videos on special weather and optical phenomena, as well as highlights of activities organised by the Observatory. The Observatory is also planning to launch a weather timelapse competition on the Instagram to collect weather photos and videos from the public. Details of the competition will be announced later. In addition, there will be a new layout for the Observatory’s website and “MyObservatory” app to include the Facebook content and link. Mr Shun encouraged the public to “like” and “follow” the Observatory’s Facebook page and Instagram, and actively “share” the relevant information.

To promote the theme of this year’s World Meteorological Day (WMD)- “Weather Ready, Climate Smart”, Mr Shun announced the official launch of the microclimate station at the Observatory Headquarters, and demonstrated how to collect weather data within a small area for analysis of urban micro climate and weather change, supporting big data analytics and smart city planning.

With the upcoming rain season, the Observatory’s website and “MyObservatory” app will be enhanced to provide the public with more regional information on heavy rain and thunderstorm. A new webpage will be added on the website, with a map indicating the affected regions mentioned in the Announcement on Localised Heavy Rain, Special Announcement on Flooding in the northern New Territories, and Thunderstorm Warning, as well as lightning locations. The recorded regional rainfall will also be displayed. The “MyObservatory” app will be enhanced with personalised notification service to enable users to get hold of the latest rainfall situation of the district where they are located, especially the information on localised heavy rain. The app will be further enhanced to include new features such as regional temperature change of the past 24-hours and features to facilitate sharing of weather graphics by users.

Furthermore, the Observatory plans to launch or enhance the following weather services, including the launch of enhanced “Met on Map” web portal today with additional weather observations from over 1,500 airports around the world; installation of new lightning sensors in Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai during the first half of the year to enhance lightning location detection capability over the Pearl River Delta Region; launch of a new enhanced version of the Ultra-Violet (UV) information webpage around mid-year to facilitate public access of UV information. Plan is also in hand to launch new lightning location information over China and northern part of South China Sea and high resolution satellite cloud imageries for western Asia based on China’s new Feng Yun 4A satellite in the second half of 2018. The Observatory is also developing automatic weather forecasts for cities and airports around the world to facilitate the public and tourists in planning their overseas trips. The Observatory plans to jointly promote this new service with the tourism sector and relevant stakeholders in the coming year.

On regional collaboration, the Observatory will collaborate with the Guangdong Meteorological Bureau, and the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau to enhance the existing Greater Pearl River Delta Weather website, which is developed and operated by the Observatory, with more comprehensive and detailed weather information for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area.

For public engagement, the “Cloud-sourcing: In Touch with Weather from Land, Sea and Air” photo and video collection campaign jointly organised by the Observatory and the marine and aviation sectors received over 2,000 photos and more than 100 videos. Selected entries will be displayed at the Hong Kong International Airport in the second half of the year.

Lastly, Mr Shun announced that the annual Open Day of the Observatory will take place on March 24 and 25. Adopting this year’s WMD theme – “Weather Ready, Climate Smart”, the exhibitions will show how the Observatory applies the latest technology to provide various services including the microclimate station which can be installed on smart lamp post and drone, the “MyFlightWx” mobile application which can be used in the cockpit, and the “MyObservatory” app which supports all Windows 10 devices. As this year marks the 135th anniversary of the Observatory, the exhibitions will also introduce the history of the Observatory. For this year’s Open Day, the Observatory collaborated with the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the first time to engage their students in designing the exhibition and souvenirs. The newly designed souvenirs include the typhoon signal model and the mini “Cloud Collector”. The Observatory will later launch quizzes on the Facebook page, and winners will get the souvenirs as prizes.

Mr Shun’s speech at the press briefing is available at
www.hko.gov.hk/dhkovoice/speech20180323e.pdf.

Figure 1
Figure 1   The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming (centre); the Assistant Director of the Observatory (Radiation Monitoring and Assessment), Mr Tsui Kit-chi (first left); the Assistant Director of the Observatory (Aviation Weather Services), Miss Lau Sum-yee (second left); the Assistant Director of the Observatory (Development, Research and Administration), Mr Edwin Lai (second right); and the Acting Assistant Director of the Observatory (Forecasting and Warning Services), Mr Lee Lap-shun (first right), introduce the latest developments of the Observatory at a press briefing today (March 23).
Figure 2
Figure 2   The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming (centre); the Assistant Director of the Observatory (Radiation Monitoring and Assessment), Mr Tsui Kit-chi (first left); the Assistant Director of the Observatory (Aviation Weather Services), Miss Lau Sum-yee (second left); the Assistant Director of the Observatory (Development, Research and Administration), Mr Edwin Lai (second right); and the Acting Assistant Director of the Observatory (Forecasting and Warning Services), Mr Lee Lap-shun (first right), announced the launch of the Observatory’s Facebook page and Instagram platform at a press briefing today (March 23). Mr Shun encouraged the public to “like”, “follow” and actively share relevant information on Facebook.
Figure 3
Figure 3   The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming, announced the official launch of the new microclimate station at the Observatory Headquarters at a press briefing today (March 23). Photo shows Mr Shun introducing the microclimate station.
Figure 4
Figure 4   The new souvenirs DIY typhoon signal model and the mini “Cloud Collector”.