MPE Reading Cafe: The Hong Kong Observatory

We were delighted to have Queenie Lam and Wai-Kin Wong, both Senior Scientific Officers at the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), as our keynote speakers on 24 June 2020. The HKO is the government department in Hong Kong responsible for monitoring and forecasting weather, issuing warnings on weather-related hazards, providing other meteorological and geophysical services, as well as monitoring and assessing radiation levels in Hong Kong.

The session on 24 June was opened by Prof. Jennifer Scott, Director of the CDT at Reading University. In her introduction, Prof. Scott said:

“It is with great pleasure that we warmly welcome our distinguished guests Queenie Lam and Wai-Kin Wong from the Hong Kong Observatory….It’s been wonderful for the CDT that we have, through working with Horatio and Queenie, built up a collaboration… It has given a number of our students a unique opportunity to go and spend two months working at the HKO. From cohort Charlie, Maria, Adrian Leung and Peter, visited the HKO two years ago and they came back full of enthusiasm. We had great feedback from them and they gave talks and presentations on their projects. Not only did they enjoy the work at the HKO but, of course, they took advantage of experiencing life in Hong Kong….Last summer, from Cohort Delta, Rhys, Adriaan Hilbers and Stuart all went to spend time at the HKO and they had an equally positive experience. And, in fact, Rhys and Adriaan were supervised by today’s speakers. From Cohort Echo, Chiara and Philipp are planning trips to the HKO later in the year. I certainly envy them. I think it’s a great opportunity and I am looking forward to learning a bit more about HKO today. Both Prof. Dan Crisan (Director of the MPE CDT at Imperial College) and I are really grateful that you have enabled us to have this collaboration and I would like to invite you to give your talks.”

The above-mentioned programme has been very popular with MPE CDT students and has regularly been oversubscribed.

The first talk, by Queenie, provided a general introduction of the HKO, including its mission, history and structure. She highlighted the HKO’s role in international cooperation, being the Asian Aviation Meteorological Centre, a WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre for Nowcasting, as well as (tentatively from 2022) Backup South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Centre. She then introduced HKO’s research and development activities using the latest technologies in virtual reality, artificial intelligence and robotics.

The second talk by Wai-Kin Wong, discussed his research applying machine learning to nowcasting. The first part of the talk focused on the nowcasting for precipitation. He mentioned the work with Adriaan last summer on developing a physics guided neural network for precipitation nowcasting. The second part of the talk discussed Wai-Kin’s ongoing research in applying machine learning to numerical weather predictions, which will be explored in more depth in Philipp’s project later in the year.

We would really like to thank both Queenie and Wai-Kin for their wonderful presentations today and for being willing to answer our many questions. It was great for the CDT staff and students to get a brief insight into the HKO and some of the research that goes on there, which we are very much impressed by. We look forward to the next activity in our collaboration!

Authors: Horatio Bodihardjo and Jennifer Scott