The Hong Kong Observatory organized the Tenth Session of the Ship Observations Team (SOT) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) in Hong Kong during 1-4 April 2019. More than 40 participants from 15 Member States and Territories of WMO attended the Session. Captain Gautam Ramaswamy, Director (Regulatory Affairs) of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, also attended the Session as a guest speaker.
Mr Chi-ming Shun, Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, pointed out during his speech to the Session the long history of Hong Kong in making ship observations. He mentioned that the Observatory was established to serve the shipping community in 1883 and it started making regular meteorological observations the next year. Weather reports had been received from ships by wireless telegraphy since 1908. In 1949, the Observatory began the recruitment of a fleet of locally-based voluntary weather observing ships. The fleet contributed more than 16,000 manual ship observations to the international community in 2018, and a similar number of weather reports from shipborne automatic weather systems. Apart from voluntary observing ships, the Observatory also deployed a number of drifting buoys in the South China Sea in recent years to collect essential observations from the ocean.
Ms Champika Gallage of WMO remarked at the meeting that ocean observation programs had become increasingly important due to the growing impact of climate change. SOT played a crucial role in contributing observation data from the ocean environment in support of the marine meteorological services for safety of life and property at sea. Out of about 3,500 active ships providing observations around the world, 79 were recruited by the Hong Kong Observatory. She thanked the Observatory and other organizations for the contributions made to SOT and the related activities.
The SOT Session is a biennial meeting which offers a platform for ocean observation program managers, meteorologists, oceanographers and researchers to coordinate on the development, implementation and maintenance of global ship-based observation projects. This is the first time ever for a SOT Session to be held in Hong Kong and East Asia.