Meteorologists of the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) jointly held a ceremony today (October 27) to commemorate the successful operation of a meteorological telecommunications circuit between Hong Kong and Beijing for more than three decades and the 10th Anniversary of the signing of the arrangement on long term co-operation between HKO and CMA.
In 1975, experts of the CMA and HKO studied together the feasibility of establishing a meteorological telecommunications circuit to connect the computer systems at Beijing and Hong Kong. An agreement was subsequently signed on October 18 in Beijing and the circuit was successfully implemented on December 20 that year. In those days, such an establishment was a breakthrough for sharing of meteorological information between the two parties. The circuit consisted of two segments: a dedicated link between Guangzhou and Hong Kong running at 75 BAUD (i.e. 75 codes per second); and another one between Beijing and Guangzhou at a transmission rate of 50 BAUD. At that time, the typical amount of data transmitted over the circuit was about 400 kilobytes per day.
In the 1990s, Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong began to exchange information on inclement weather, including tropical cyclone and heavy rain warnings, in real time. Following the rapid increase in the amount of meteorological information, the speed of the circuit also increased gradually. The circuit between Hong Kong and the Mainland was upgraded twice in 1990 and 2001 respectively. The transmission rate of the circuit now stands at 64,000 bps (bits per second), which is about 800 times faster than that in 1975. A wider array of meteorological information, including data from automatic weather stations, wind profilers as well as radar and satellite imagery, soaring to about 90 megabytes per day, can now be exchanged over the circuit.
The Director of Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Lam Chiu-ying, said, "During the mid-1970s when passengers using public transportation still needed to purchase tickets manually from ticket clerks and the Mass Transit Railway was not yet operational, the Hong Kong Observatory had already been in the technological forefront of the society, utilising computer systems to link with Beijing directly for the exchange of real-time meteorological information. Nowadays, with the use of a digital communication network, more and more meteorological information worldwide can be exchanged instantly between the two places. The availability of real-time meteorological information enhances greatly our capability in weather forecasting."
On December 18, 1996, the HKO and CMA signed an arrangement on long-term co-operation on meteorological science and technology. The arrangement covered various co-operation aspects, including weather forecasting and warnings, meteorological information exchange and communication, scientific research as well as training of personnel. This arrangement promotes joint development of meteorological services in Hong Kong and on the Mainland, enhancing the meteorological service standards and bringing out their socio-economic benefits.
From 2005 onwards, the circuit began to support real-time transmission of lightning data for the Lightning Location Network which monitors lightning activities over the Pearl River Estuary. With this implementation, the Lightning Location System can collect sufficient data and estimate accurately the lightning positions within a short period of time. Through the Observatory's web-site, the public is provided with timely and useful lightning location information for self protection.
"The Hong Kong Observatory and the China Meteorological Administration have worked closely over the years and will continue to co-operate further in various meteorological areas, with a view to providing timely and quality meteorological services to the public," Mr Lam said.
For background information about the long-term co-operation between HKO and CMA, please refer to the following link (in Chinese only):
Dr. QIN Dahe, Administrator of China Meteorological Administration and Mr LAM Chiu-ying, Director of Hong Kong Observatory conducted cake-cutting at the ceremony.