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Home > Opportunities > Placement Programme at the HKO
Student Exchange



Every year we send out a few qualified students to the Hong Kong Observatory for a fascinating internship opportunity to not only embark on weather and climate research, but also allow the students to experience first-hand the nature and routines of meteorological services. Both one-year and summer placements are available.

ESSC student as HKO intern in year 2020:

Bowie CHAN

Speaking of earthquakes, many Hong Kong citizens would find them very distant and unrelated to them, yet a few small-magnitude earthquakes occurred near Hong Kong throughout history. Occasionally people in Hong Kong could even feel the ground shaking for earthquakes in Taiwan. In fact, the Hong Kong Observatory has set up an earthquake monitoring system apart from the well-known atmospheric and meteorological services.

In the past, the earthquake intensities are determined based on reports from citizens collected through the Internet and phone. However, it takes time and, moreover, reports based on human sensation could be subjective. Given these problems, my project aims to determine earthquake intensities from instrumental data, which give more accurate and prompter responses. After generating and analyzing peak ground acceleration (PGA) derived from strong motion accelerometer (SMA) waveforms, I studied station characteristics and proposed an updated approach relating earthquake intensity with PGA.

The internship was a unique experience because there are seldom internship opportunities related to geophysics, especially earthquakes. I feel grateful and fortunate to be able to help developing the monitoring system. In addition to cultivating self-learning skills for programming and statistics, learning from experts and colleagues is one of the main takeaways from the program. As I was navigating through the system, I was encouraged by my supervisor to propose new ideas for improving the system. Such flexibility allowed me to try more orientations other than the assigned work. This experience was truly memorable, and it motivated me to continue geophysics-related studies.


photo: Bowie CHAN

Jonathan LAU

photo: Jonathan LAU

Not only that it is a rare opportunity, taking an internship at Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) is also an unforgettable experience for me. Working at HKO allowed me to use my meteorology knowledge and programming skills learned in ESSC classes. Besides, I also learned many knowledge of weather and climate thanks to this internship experience. The project I worked at HKO concerns the development of an algorithm forecasting the growth/decay of a storm cells, by analyzing historical radar data, so as to improve the nowcasting system of heavy rainfall. Although the COVID-19 pandemic reduced my chance to work in office and directly communicate with my boss and colleague, they still gave me lots of device and help when I encountered problem in my project, which enables me to finish my project smoothly in 2020. Overall, working in HKO benefits me a lot.


Tiffany PANG

photo: Tiffany PANG

Last summer, I was a part of the HKO summer placement programme, during the third wave of COVID-19. This is my first internship related to meteorology and participating in this has always been on my bucket list since I saw the ESSC information brochure. Thank you HKO and ESSC for providing this amazing opportunity and help us experience it through between the second and third wave of the pandemic. I have learnt so much about impact study, and applications of meteorological data in decision making. This short-term project about extreme temperature events in Hong Kong exposed me to a working environment while further improved my research skills.


Nicolas LO

I am grateful to have my 2020 filled with a valuable internship experience at the Hong Kong Observatory. Under the influence of pandemics, we all faced many difficulties in our daily lives. Luckily, I was able to spend a fruitful year at HKO. At the beginning of my placement, I was really panicking and doubting my ability. Thankfully, I was able to pick up the work gradually and made progress under the supervision of my mentor and colleagues. My main duty was to work on the development of urban automatic weather monitoring stations, which involved the design of the meteorological instruments, site assessment, data transmission, data quality control and data-sharing platform. Through different assigned tasks, I was able to comprehensively understand the establishment of a weather observation network and equip myself with professional skills, such as 3D printing technology, Arduino and programming skills, etc. One of the most remarkable moments was the designing and installation of HKO patented smart lamppost, namely Bollard. This design not only performed accurate meteorological measurement, but also blended so nicely to our community. My internship experience allowed me to meet many nice HKO staff and interns. I have learnt a lot here and grown a lot this year. Thank you HKO!


photo: Nicolas LO

Cindy WU

photo: Cindy WU

I am very glad to have a one-year internship at Hong Kong Observatory. Although we need to work from home most of the time due to COVID-19, I had still learnt a lot and gained many treasurable experiences last year. My project is mainly to reduce the bias between the original model temperature forecasts and the temperature observations recorded by HKO. Moreover, I had also created a new fine-scale forecasting model to predict the diurnal maximum and minimum temperature. Apart from giving me a chance to use the knowledge I had learnt in class, I also learned a lot of statistical and programming skills from the project. I had also a great opportunity joining the workshops held by HKO, making mini automatic weather stations that can measure temperature, pressure and humidity with just a single-board computer. At the end of my internship program, I had joined the Technical Form in HKO to present my findings. All in all, my experiences in HKO is special and full of variety which enriched my university life. On the other hand, this gave me a moment to think deeply about my career path. I am much more interested in atmospheric science research after my internship in HKO and hopefully, I can have my postgraduate study in this field.


ESSC student as HKO intern in year 2019:

Jeremy WONG

Being able to work in the Hong Kong Observatory was out of my expectation yet a remarkable experience for me. Contrary to the perception of HKO as an solely atmospheric and meteorological research and service agency, HKO also offers geophysical research and monitoring services. Throughout a year of internship, I was responsible on the revitalization of the HKO Earthquake Monitoring System. The project was challenging yet fruitful. Revitalizing the Earthquake monitoring system requires extensive knowledge ranging from usage of different seismic instrumentations, mathematical and geophysical understanding on Earthquake locations and detections to the practical computational and programming skills used in clusters of servers.

I was first overwhelmed by the huge prerequisite in understanding the systems and mechanisms behind. Nevertheless, with the support and guidance from my supervisor and colleagues, I was able to reconstruct a new system with improved efficiency and performance.  I was also able to develop a new module using artificial intelligence to validate the performance of the newly developed system. Beside the project itself, HKO also offered me wide exposure to its services and duties. I was allowed to visit and participate different sections of HKO including radar outpost, instrumental maintenance and various conference meetings. The valuable internship experience was irreplaceable and strengthened my determination to devote myself to scientific research.

很感恩能在天文台作一年實習生,在天文台工作一直是我預期之外。天文台除了有天氣及氣象的研究和服務外,還提供了地球物理的監察和工作。過去一年的實習中,我負責更新及改善天文台的地震監測系統。整個地震監測系統涉及的範圍廣闊,包括不同類型地震儀的應用、地震學的數理知識和電腦系統所需要的程式編碼,因此過去一年的工作極具挑戰性。但伴隨着上司和同事善意指導與支持, 最終能在一年的實習其間建立更精準和快捷的地震監測系統。除此之外,新的系統也成功試行加入人工智能監測和評估系統表現,進一步提升效能。除了電腦系統的工作以外,天文台也提供了不少機會讓我認識和參與,例如考察天文台各大雷達站,地震儀的維修保養工作和不同地區和國際性議會,令我實習生涯多姿多采。這一年的實習令我更想進深參與科研工作,進一步研究和理解地球運作。

photo: Jeremy Wong

Taurus YONG

My internship at HKO has intensified my enthusiasm in the Earth System Science field. I worked at the Forecast Systems Division on a research project to verify the performance of automatic global city weather forecasts based on post-processed outputs from various numerical weather prediction models. I have studied the relationship between weather and geology by investigating the model performance carried around the world. During the placement in HKO, I have developed research skills by utilizing statistical analysis on the data performance of models. I have also further intensified my background knowledge in weather and climate, coupled with geology, which makes me more believing in Earth working as a system consisted of atmosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere. Moreover, working and learning alongside the experts in HKO was an incredible experience. The working environment in HKO is dynamic, friendly, and proactive, allowing me to gain a lot in career development and new perspective.


photo: Taurus YONG

LAU King Heng

photo: LAU King Heng

Working as an intern in HKO last year is an unforgettable experience. My work mainly includes designing and installing microclimate stations and revamping the automatic quality assurance system for meteorological data. Although I faced many challenges in my work, my colleagues and mentor were very kind and gave me valuable advices. I was able to apply the atmospheric science concepts I learnt in ESSC courses to my work. Moreover, I had the opportunity to teach myself skills that are not mentioned in classes, such as 3D printing and new programming languages. Apart from my research work, I was very fortunate to be able to participate in several outreach events, as well as visiting weather stations that are not open to the public (e.g. Tate’s Cairn, Green Island). These experiences were truly eye-opening. After the internship, I now have more motivation and confidence in pursuing further studies after my graduation in Atmospheric Science.



The one-year internship in Hong Kong Observatory is undoubtedly worth experiencing. My research project aimed to develop a marine forecasting model system using numerical models for the Western Pacific and the South China Sea, which applies knowledge from the following courses: Ocean and Climate, ESSC3300, and Numerical Methods and Modelling for Earth System Science, ESSC4520. Although I merely have a relatively basic understanding in these aspects, my supervisor, Mr. Dickson Lau, was extremely patient to provide guidance and advice to me. Besides the research project, the Hong Kong Observatory provided various opportunities for interns to visit different stations. Having the chances to explore the tide stations, radar stations and other observation meteorological stations has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the daily operation of the observatory. Moreover, Hong Kong Observatory provides additional training sessions for the interns. Luckily, I was granted the opportunity to attend some lectures about modelling. These experiences offered me chances to communicate with different government parties. All in all, the internship in Hong Kong Observatory is certainly a memorable and amazing experience in my university life, and it allows me to be better prepared for my future career path.

在香港天文台實習一年是一個非常難得的經驗。我的研究項目旨在使用海洋預測模型系統以預測西太平洋和南中國海範圍的海洋氣候資訊,過程中可以利用以下課程的知識:海洋與氣候 (ESSC3300) 和地球系統科學的數值方法與建模 (ESSC4520 )。儘管我在這些方面只有非常基本的了解,但我的主管劉先生還是很耐心地提供指導和建議。除研究項目外,香港天文台還為實習生提供機會訪問不同站點,例如潮汐站,雷達站和其他觀測氣象站,使我對天文台的日常操作有了更深入的了解。此外,香港天文台為實習生提供額外的培訓課程,以提高我對建模的知識,這些經驗亦使我有機會與不同的政府部門進行交流。總而言之,香港天文台實習是我大學生活中難忘的經歷,以及讓我為未來的職業道路做更多準備。

photo: Venus CHEUNG

ESSC student as HKO intern in year 2018:

(From left) Nathan WONG, Gabriel FAN, Avis WONG and Coty CHENG

(From left) Nathan WONG, Gabriel FAN, Avis WONG and Coty CHENG


Your future is defined by the decisions you make at the moment. Luckily, I had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone to have internship at the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) during 2018. This unforgettable experience changed my life. I was responsible for the development and installation of urban automatic weather monitoring stations for smart cities. From selecting suitable instruments to designing the outlook of radiation shields and applying 3D printing technology, to finally finding a suitable location for establishment of stations, my cordial supervisor had instructed me in a very supportive way. Since I needed to build stations from scratch, many specialized techniques are involved. So, I had cooperated with my friendly colleagues in different positions to finish my work. They also answered my questions about some technical skills very patiently.

During the internship, in order to turn my idea into reality, I studied and applied woodworking skills and 3D printing technology, which I both had zero understanding before. More importantly, I have developed a more mature mindset, and started thinking in a more realistic way. Also, I have met many nice student interns and became friends with them. This fruitful experience as an intern in HKO was really fascinating and unforgettable, which helped confirm my future goals.

人生由無數的選擇交織而成。很慶幸,我能選擇跳出自己的舒適圈,於天文台實習的經歷改變了我的人生。並非與其他同伴一樣研究電腦模式,我主要協助研究開發及設立城市中的微氣候監測站。從挑選儀器、設計監測站的外型及內部結構、運用3D 打印技術將意念化為現實、進行不同的比較測試從而決定儀器及監測站間最合適的配搭,到尋覓地方建立微型的城市天氣網絡,都在親切的導師指導下逐步實現。工作範圍涵蓋之廣,讓我能有機會與不同職位的同事緊密合作,一同外出工作,他們友善教導經驗不足的我,對我的疑問亦耐心解答。這次實習不僅讓我理解以前從未接觸的木工技巧、3D打印技術,更改變了自己的思考模式,比起以往常流於理論層面,變得多從實際情況作出考量,思想亦比當初成熟不少。 很幸運,能在天文台實習一年實在獲益匪淺,亦令我更確定人生將來的路向。

Gabriel FAN

The HKO internship programme is a valuable opportunity for applying what we have learnt at ESSC to real life problems and working situations. From January 2017 to August 2018, I was responsible for the first-ever micro climate monitoring project through developing a dense observation network in the city centre of Kowloon. I was involved in the design of temperature measuring instrument, measuring site selections, communications, constructions, maintenance, data analysis, presentation and paper writing. I had to communicate with outside parties such as the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Lands Department, the Polytechnic University and HKUST. Apart from my own project, I was also involved in other works. For example, automatic weather station maintenance and data monitoring, organizing outreach projects such as the Community Weather Observing Scheme in Facebook, Weather Observation Competition for secondary schools, Public Weather Observation Course, the HKO Open Day etc. In this period, I have come across many knowledgeable and helpful colleagues from various divisions and organizations, and have gained a deep understanding of HKO.



Working in the Hong Kong Observatory last summer break is really an unforgettable experience. I have applied what I learnt in my undergraduate course in my work in HKO. My HKO experience also provides me hands-on experiences on adapting to challenges, all within a nice working environment. My role in HKO involved analysing data and developing an algorithm to provide a probabilistic storm surge prediction. Colleagues and my mentors were always friendly and helpful, they would explain and discuss with me some difficulties I faced so as to solve the problems. They always provided me some directions when I was facing an arduous problem. Besides my own research work, the experiences of visiting some weather stations, tidal stations and seismograph stations not open to the public made my time there really memorable. The placement programme in HKO did help me to know more about HKO and to have a more comprehensive picture of the operation of HKO. It was really a fruitful and meaningful experience.

剛過去的暑假,我有幸在天文台裡進行為期兩個月的實習工作。我在本科課程中學習到不少有關於大氣科學的知識,而天文台正正給予我一個寶貴的機會讓我把過去兩年所學習到的科學知識應用出來。在這短短的兩個多月中,我首先要為天文台過去的颱風路徑預測作出一些數據分析,然後再就這些分析建立一套風暴潮概率預報演算法,讓天文台其他同事能夠進行相關的風險評估。由實習初期對編程語言一竅不通,到最後經過多次嘗試後成功研發出一套演算法,這有賴天文台其他同事全力協助及教導及與其他實習學生的共同研究及討論,更重要的是天文台中的導師提出了不少方向令我能對自己的作品有所改善。 除研習工作外,我更可以與其他的實習生討論研究成果,而最令我留下深刻印象的就是我的導師不時帶我到平時不對外開放的氣象站、潮汐站及地震測量站的參觀。這兩個月的工作確實令我對天文台的認識大增,亦令我結識了不少有相同興趣的朋友,獲益良多。

Conson LEUNG

Working in the HKO is one of my aspirations since secondary school due to my interest in meteorology, therefore I applied for the 1 year internship last year. My project was related to weather radar and rainfall nowcast. I have learnt to use programming (Python) to handle the radar data in my research project, so my programming skills was greatly improved.

Besides working in office, I enjoyed going out for field trips; for example, we went to visit the King's Park and Waglan Island weather stations. Field trips were enjoyable as I could explore many apparatus inside the stations; those experience were valuable because otherwise I would not be able to visit those stations if not going together with HKO staffs.

Internship in HKO is definitely a valuable experience in my University life. The work environment is friendly, and colleagues were willing to help if you face difficulties in your project. If you were interested in meteorology, grab the chance and apply for it!

photo: Conson LEUNG

由於我對氣象深感興趣,在香港天文台工作是我自中學以來的一個願望,因此我去年申請了天文台一年實習計劃,有幸如願以償。我在實習時的主要研究範疇有關天氣雷達和降雨預報。我學會了使用程式 (Python) 來處理數據和繪圖,所以我的編程技巧有顯著的進步。

除了在辦公室工作外,我喜歡外出參觀天文台的氣象站,例如,我有機會參觀京土柏和橫瀾島氣象站。實地考察的機會難能可貴,我可以探索氣象站內許多我以前未見過的設備, 例如巨型探空氣球和各種雨量計。若非與天文台工作人員一起去,平日我無法造訪那些氣象站。


Samuel KAM

photo: Samuel KAM

Internship in HKO is a truly fruitful experience. You can tell how HKO values its interns because important projects are assigned to us. Under this high expectation and the guidance from my supervisor, I was able to learn way more than I thought. School lectures focus on theories while internship focuses on practicality. Immersion in an environment with cutting-edge technology, and opportunities to do presentation in front of directors and scientific officers of HKO help me to grow. After the completion of my project, my product was delivered to other countries. Knowing that what I did is helpful to those in real need brings me the biggest fulfilment. During leisure, spending time with other interns is also enjoyable.

在天文台實習是非常良好的工作體驗。天文台非常信任實習生,會對我們予以重任。在這種期望,及advisor耐心的指導及支援下,這一年收穫實在太多。學校上課著重理論;實習卻是著重實戰﹕平日的工作裝備你的technical skills, 你會接觸到最尖端、最新的科技/知識,加上在台長面前匯報的機會,實在獲益良多。一年過後,完成了自己的project, 看見自己的product被真正有需要的國家使用,並予以好評,那一刻,看見自己完成了一件很有意義的事情。而工作之餘,與同事及同學們一起共度一年,換來了真至的友誼。

ESSC student as HKO intern in year 2017:

Nathan WONG

Working in the Hong Kong Observatory last year is an unforgettable experience. There, I can apply the knowledge we have learned in the university to do research and develop new products. My research project was to improve the existing forecast verification system, and also to develop and apply new verification methods in the hope of providing insights of where the current weaknesses are and where we could improve. At first, I was not so familiar with some concepts and terms such as database and different file formats, but my supervisor and colleagues were very kind and were ready to explain them. I was also engaged in several other research projects, such as precipitation forecast calibration and cloud amount derivation using satellite imagery, and also had a chance to co-author a paper with my supervisor. Some of the products I developed have been put into operation. It felt very satisfying to see them being are useful. The internship broadened my horizons on various aspects of meteorology, and I learned a lot about the current limitations and bottlenecks in weather forecasting and verification. Together with the computer skills learned there and the experience of handling large amount of meteorological data, the internship really strengthened my confidence and allowed me to be well-equipped for my future endeavors.


Leo NG

photo: Leo NG

Working in Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) for a year provides me an opportunity to do research using operational data. Apart from that, the time when Super Typhoon Hato (with typhoon signal No. 10) hit Hong Kong in July is the most memorable moment in the whole year. As a student intern, I am able to observe how HKO staff using professional forecasts and nowcast tools on Hato. During the internship period, I was responsible for developing a simplified meso-scale atmospheric model. This challenging task allows me to apply what I have learnt in boundary layer meteorology (ESSC 4210). The model needs to be continuously modified to obtain better forecasting performance on different weather elements under the supervision of my mentor. This year’s experience raises my interests in scientific researching and further studies after graduation.


ESSC student as HKO intern in year 2016:

Yvonne IP

photo: Yvonne

Spending one year in the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) as a placement student is a very valuable experience. Besides having the chance to observe closely how HKO staff provide their professional services, or visiting different facilities, as an intern I could do research based on real operational data, the result of which might be implemented into HKO operational system, thus serving our own home city. My research project includes enhancing conversion from radar reflectivity to rainfall rate, as well as converting meteorological satellite images into radar reflectivity using artificial neural network. Although doing research is not easy, I learnt a lot in the process. During my internship, my mentor has given me many chance of studying different topics. Other colleagues have also given me a big helping hand. The experience of this year has strengthened my determination to devote myself to scientific research.

在天文台實習是一個非常珍貴的體驗。除了可以近距離觀察天文台職員運用他們的專業知識為市民大眾提供準確的預測服務、參觀各個平時不對外開放的氣象觀察設施,實習生還有機會使用不會向大眾公開、實時、高解象的氣象數據來進行各式各樣的研究。研究成果理想的話,甚至有機會被天文台採用。 這一年的實習期間,我要研究如何改善將雷達反射率轉換成降雨量的運算法、利用人工神經網絡將衛星圖象轉換成雷達反射率。 研究過程雖然辛苦,但從完全不懂到略懂一二、從驚惶失措到冷靜地去嘗試不同的解決方案、從只懂得單向地從老師中學習知識到明白到自己去找答案和與同伴討論更能透徹地理解問題,我不但學了許多,也成長了許多。 在實習期間,我的導師給予了我許多機會去研究不同的課題,其他同事也在研究過程給予了我許多幫助,非常感謝他們。這一年的經歷,堅定了我在科研路上努力的決心。

ESSC student as HKO intern in year 2015:

Qian Kaiwei

I started my year-round internship last January in HKO. The project I worked on is to use the CCA (canonical correlation analysis) method to statistically downscale the GCM (general circulation model) output. Besides, the extreme weather in the future such as heat wave and cold surge is also analyzed during my internship. Internship at HKO is helpful. My mentor and colleagues are very kind and helpful and they taught me a lot of knowledge about meteorology and statistical downscaling. Nevertheless, I learnt how to handle different data and enhanced my scientific thinking during my project. I also met lovely student interns there, and I enjoy the experience at HKO.


ESSC students as HKO interns in year 2014:

Mannie KAM

photo: Mannie

Being able to work in the Hong Kong Observatory was one of the unexpected yet fruitful experience in the 4-year curricula (now 5) in CUHK. I still remember the nervousness of my first day of work, having no previous experience in a workplace. The colleagues there were very friendly and willing to guide me throughout the placement.
During the internship I was responsible for mapping the monthly rainfall data in Hong Kong by using different interpolation methods. Though there was many limitations when approaching the problem and the final results was not very significant, this opportunity has given me a handful experience in doing research and knowing my strength and weakness in solving a scientific problem.
Outside the working hours, the staff in HKO has kindly guided us in several outing tours like the King’s Park Meteorology Station and the office in Air Traffic Control tower. I have gained more insight about the tasks of the observatory and would strongly recommend people who are interested in this field to participate in this placement.



Tommy CHAN

Photo: Tommy

After finishing various fundamental science courses, I chose to take a gap year in 2014 and went to Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) to work as a full-time research staff for the placement programme in my sophomore year. This is my first independent research project which I have found my deep passion for scientific research.
My research at HKO focused on using statistical methods to extract information about climate extremes in China from different data sources including model outputs, field observations and reanalysis of data. The ultimate goal was to detect, attribute and project regional changes in extreme events in China, which still remain largely uncertain. The major difficulties of the project included data incoherence and the significant effect of natural variability on extreme events. I explored different statistical tools to tackle the problems. Meanwhile, I contributed various data processing programs to my colleagues.
Working at HKO was enjoyable. I met an excellent mentor, many friendly colleagues and student interns. Apart from the research projects, I also had opportunities to visit to various HKO facilities, such as the Airport Meteorological Office, to understand more about the services of HKO. I have learnt a lot of things which cannot be found in conventional curricula.