At a meet-the-media session today (23 March 2005), the Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Lam Chiu-ying, talked about the Observatory's achievements in 2004 and the Observatory's direction in the future.
The Observatory's website was enhanced to include a Personal Digital Assistant version. The content has expanded to include real-time weather photos of selected tourist spots in Hong Kong, weather information for airports in the world, high resolution satellite images zooming in on the Pearl River Delta, forecast weather maps generated by computer models, radar imagery animation, etc. Recently, the Observatory revamped its telephone enquiry system. Through one single number, 1878200, a caller can access all the information provided by the Observatory through telephone or fax.
"We were proud to provide support to the Hong Kong Olympics wind surfing team to enable them to compete with other world-class athletes on equal terms as far as scientific support is concerned," said Mr Lam. The Observatory has already begun preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Observatory staff inspected the 2008 Olympics wind surfing competition venue at Qindao while paying a visit to the mainland counterpart. The nowcasting system developed by the Observatory is a contender of a multi-national forecasting demonstration organized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for the 2008 Olympics. "This is partly a support for the Beijing Olympics, and partly a world-class meteorological contest," remarked Mr Lam.
The LIDAR at the Hong Kong International Airport became operational in the middle of last year, significantly enhancing the ability to detect windshear. The Observatory's pioneering work in windshear detection has gained worldwide recognition, and was chosen for report as an exemplary case in the latest issue of the WMO quarterly bulletin. Furthermore, with the Observatory being a world leader in the management of aviation weather service, Mr Chan Sai-tick of the Observatory was appointed by the International Civil Aviation Organization as a consultant to compile a manual on quality management in aviation weather service. Upon completion, the manual will be widely distributed to countries worldwide for reference.
Internationally, WMO declared recently that the two websites "World Weather Information Service" and "Severe Weather Information Centre" developed and maintained by the Observatory would make the transition from trial run to official operation today, thereby becoming part of the regular machinery of WMO. At the same time, the Observatory continues to shoulder the important task of collating official city weather forecasts all over the world, and coordinate the operation of other language versions of the websites. Mr Lam said, "This is an honour for Hong Kong, and an indication that we are at the forefront of the application of information technology."
Last year, one of the Observatory's endeavours was to interact more with the public. Several public meteorological classes were organized, all of which were over-subscribed. With the help of volunteers of the "Friends of the Observatory", tours of the Observatory were organized to provide members of the public the opportunity to see the historical relics and the ecosystem in addition to the scientific work of the Observatory. These tours were well received by the public and always fully booked. An e-bulletin on educational resources on the Internet was also launched.
In the coming year, the Observatory will focus on promoting public awareness in disaster prevention and mitigation. A new 8-episode TV programme, the "Meteorology Series" jointly produced by RTHK and the Observatory will be broadcast on TVB Jade every Tuesday at 7 p.m. starting March 22. The Observatory also joins force with the Security Bureau and a number of other government departments to organize a series of activities lasting one year. These activities include exhibitions, lectures, TV publicity programmes, etc. "Probably the most interesting activity is a tropical cyclone naming contest to be launched in April, details of which will be announced later," remarked Mr Lam.
After the tsunami in South Asia, public interest on tsunamis is high. In response, the Observatory shall disseminate more information to the public in future. The Observatory will also design and widely distribute a publicity pamphlet explaining various hazards of the sea. Mr Lam emphasized, "The science of tsunami prediction is not yet mature and there is always some degree of inaccuracy in such predictions. So the public should not assume that there would always be warning before a tsunami arrives. While on a beach, if you feel an earth tremor and see some unusual sea conditions, you should move quickly to higher grounds without waiting for someone to warn you."
A new system, the lightning location system, will be put into operation in the rainy season this year. Members of the public will be able to see from the Observatory's website the distribution of lightning activity so as to take early precautions to ensure safety. With the support of the meteorological authorities of Guangdong and Macao, parts of the system have been installed in Macao and San Shui. This enables the area of coverage of the system to encompass the entire Pearl River Delta, hence greatly facilitating lightning protection in the region.
Regarding rainfall amount and tropical cyclone activity in 2005, Mr Lam said, "Indications are that the annual rainfall will be near normal, whereas the number of tropical cyclones affecting Hong Kong will be slightly less than normal." "Fewer tropical cyclones does not mean that there is no direct hit, and hence we should not relax precautions against typhoons," cautioned Mr Lam.
Please visit the following web page for the Speech of Mr C Y Lam, Director of Hong Kong Observatory, at a meet-the-media session on World Meteorological Day 2005 (23 March 2005):
For further media inquiry, please contact Mr. LEUNG Wing-mo at 2926 8441.
Director of the Hong Kong Observatory (centre) and Assistant Directors explaining the work of the Observatory
Mr Lam Chiu-ying introduces a lightning location indication system capable of monitoring lightning affecting the Pearl River Delta
Lightning Location Information System