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  • HKO signs MoU with WMO to strengthen meteorological co-operation

  • Tuesday, 2nd October 2018

The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), Mr Shun Chi-ming, today (October 2), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the HKO with the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Professor Petteri Taalas, to further strengthen meteorological co-operation.

Under the MoU, the HKO will support the WMO’s initiative in establishing the Global Multi-hazard Alert System (GMAS). In this connection, the HKO has revamped the Severe Weather Information Centre website (SWIC 2.0) and is also updating the World Weather Information Service website to aggregate authoritative warning signals related to high-impact weather, water and climate events issued by official weather service organisations around the world. Members of the public and decision makers of various organisations, including international and humanitarian agencies, can make use of the information on the websites to keep an overview of natural disasters on a global basis and take appropriate disaster risk reduction measures.

Mr Shun said, “As a member of the WMO, Hong Kong, China, will play a more significant role in fostering regional and international meteorological co-operation to ensure public safety and reduce disaster risk. HKO is very pleased to collaborate with the WMO in establishing the GMAS to help minimise loss due to natural disasters.”

Professor Taalas said, “The signing of the MoU between the HKO and the WMO will further strengthen our co-operation and significantly contributes to the global meteorological information services. I am very happy to see the launch of the SWIC 2.0 website today. This marks an important step in taking forward the GMAS initiative, contributing to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.”

Mr Shun and Professor Taalas officiated at the launch ceremony of the SWIC 2.0 website and the opening ceremony of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) for Nowcasting after signing the MoU. The HKO was designated as an RSMC for Nowcasting for the Asian region at the 70th Session of the Executive Council of the WMO in June this year. It is a recognition of the significant role HKO plays in applying nowcasting techniques in predicting severe weather. As the RSMC for Nowcasting for the Asian region, the HKO will provide meteorological organisations in the region with products and techniques related to nowcasting of high-impact weather events.

Video introducing Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre for Nowcasting:

Video introducing the revamped Severe Weather Information Centre (SWIC 2.0) website:

Background information

WMO is the intergovernmental agency of the United Nations for weather, climate, operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. At present, WMO has 185 Member States and six Member Territories, including Hong Kong, China. WMO originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO) which was founded in 1873. The core functions of WMO include fostering of meteorological research and observations, data exchange and technology transfer, as well as relevant training and application services.

The HKO and the WMO have a long history of co-operation, which can be dated back to 1937 when the HKO hosted the First Conference of the Regional Commission II of the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), the predecessor of WMO. In recent years, HKO was entrusted by WMO to undertake a number of global weather information services on behalf of WMO, viz. development and operation of the World Weather Information Service (WWIS) website (Note 1) and the Severe Weather Information Centre (SWIC) website (Note 2), as well as the updating of the International Cloud Atlas (ICA) (Note 3). The Observatory also supports WMO’s initiative in arranging reconnaissance flights for tropical cyclone investigation. This initiative is greatly supported by the Government Flying Service, and where possible, to fly reconnaissance flights into tropical cyclones to collect and share valuable observation data, which significantly enhances the capabilities of international forecast and warning of, for instance, tropical cyclones.

Note 1: WWIS – a website developed and operated by HKO, providing official weather observations, forecasts and climatological information supplied by weather services around the world for over 2,200 cities. A mobile app called “MyWorldWeather” is also developed and operated by HKO.

Note 2: SWIC – a website developed and operated by HKO, providing a centralized source of official warnings and information issued by weather services around the world.

Note 3: ICA – an online version of the ICA developed and operated by HKO, when the ICA was updated by WMO in 2017. The ICA serves as the global standard for the observation of clouds and meteorological phenomena for use by WMO Members around the world.

Photo 1
Figure 1: The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming (left), today (October 2), signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Professor Petteri Taalas (right), to further strengthen meteorological co-operation.
Photo 2
Figure 2: The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming (right), and the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Professor Petteri Taalas (left), officiate at the launch ceremony of the revamped Severe Weather Information Centre website (SWIC 2.0) today (October 2).
Photo 3
Figure 3: The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), Mr Shun Chi-ming (right), and the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Professor Petteri Taalas (left), officiate at the opening ceremony of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre for Nowcasting today (October 2).