At a meet-the-media session today (17 March 2006), the Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Lam Chiu-ying, talked about the Observatory's achievements in 2005 and the Observatory's activities in 2006.
In the Financial Year 2005 2006, the total number of civil service posts and non-civil service contract staff remains unchanged. Mr Lam said, "The uncertainty we faced in the past few years has finally subsided. Last year was therefore a year of progress on a stable basis." The results of internal surveys show that there have been improvements in both the morale and work satisfaction of the staff of the Observatory. "I would like to thank all my colleagues for their contribution towards building a positive and happy working environment," Mr Lam said.
Mr Lam was pleased with the recognition and approval of the work of the Observatory by the community, quoting as examples the Observatory emerging as the champion in the Departmental Award for Service Enhancement Competition (small department category) of the Civil Service Outstanding Service Award Scheme, and the Observatory website winning several awards. Mr Lam added, "We know very well that people always expect more. We must put in our best otherwise we would sink into oblivion."
Last year, the Observatory made progress on a number of fronts. Several new services were introduced, the scope of exchange and collaboration with different sectors of the community was expanded, and several projects to strengthen the Observatory's scientific and technological capability were initiated. Mr Lam highlighted the fact that the Observatory is a meteorological department held in high regard internationally. Mr Lam said, "We are world-famous in our contribution to disaster prevention and mitigation through the dissemination of a spectrum of weather warnings which trigger the concerted effort of the community to combat the onslaught of adverse weather." He supported his statement by listing as examples several special missions and activities which professional officers of the department took part last year to help other meteorological services in developing countries in this connection. Mr Lam added, "Such experience helps us appreciate better how our work relates to local social development."
Looking ahead, Mr Lam said that the Observatory would continue to strive for progress on a stable basis in the coming year. New services will be introduced, including seasonal climate forecasts, UV index forecasts, enhancing regional weather information by providing weather information at two more points, viz. Tsuen Wan and Central District on the internet, etc. Research and development effort will be spent on strengthening the capability of the Observatory's "nowcasting" system to forecast rainfall several hours ahead, on building up a solid foundation for tsunami alerts using a numerical tsunami model, and on studying the relationship between climate and human health, and the long-term trend in related indices in the context of climate change.
"We are proud to provide support to the 2008 Olympic in Beijing," Mr Lam said. "The Observatory's "nowcasting" computer system will take part in a forecast demonstration project in Beijing this summer. Our colleagues will also serve as consultants to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, to assist in planning for related weather services. For the equestrian events which will be held in Hong Kong, we are building a meteorological observing system for assessing the weather stress index relevant to horses. Following the example of what we did in the 2004 Athens Olympic, we will provide meteorological support to the Hong Kong windsurfing team in Qingdao."
After giving a forecast of near normal rainfall and 5 to 6 tropical cyclones affecting Hong Kong this year, Mr Lam emphasized that because both the population and wealth are highly concentrated in Hong Kong, any individual rainstorm or typhoon has the potential to cause great damage. He pleaded to everyone to be vigilant and diligent in checking for points of vulnerability at home or at the place of work before the onset of the typhoon and rainy season.
Mr Lam also made an announcement in connection with the operation of the Tropical Cyclone Warning System in Hong Kong. Mr Lam said that the phrase "affect Hong Kong" in the definition of the Stand-by Signal No. 1 would from now on include "strong winds in Hong Kong waters." Mr Lam explained, "In the future, the main difference in our operation will be that as a tropical cyclone departs, the Strong Wind Signal No. 3 will most likely be followed by the No. 1 Signal. It would serve to remind the public to be cautious about strong winds still affecting the nearby sea areas."
2006 is the 25th anniversary of the passing away of the late Director, Mr Gordon Bell. Mr Lam took the opportunity to pay tribute to Mr Bell and other predecessors of the Observatory, pointing out that the achievements the Observatory enjoys today are a reflection of the cumulative efforts of many generations of people who served at the Observatory. "An Introduction to Typhoons An Unfinished Manuscript" by Mr Bell has been published in electronic form under the "Historical Publication" series of the Observatory.
Please visit the following web page for the full text of the speech of Mr C Y Lam, Director of Hong Kong Observatory, at a meet-the-media session in celebration of the World Meteorological Day 2006: http://www.weather.gov.hk/dhkovoice/speech0317e.htm
Figure 1. Director of the Observatory (centre) and Assistant Directors explaining the work of the Observatory
Figure 2. Yeung Kai-hing, Assistant Director, explains how the tsunami numerical model works
Figure 3. Lam Chiu-ying and Lee Boon-ying explain how a specially built Wet Bulb Globe Temperature system help to monitor heat stress for horses