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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实习生,在天文台工作一直是我预期之外。天文台除了有天气及气象的研究和服务外,还提供了地球物理的监察和工作。过去一年的实习中,我负责更新及改善天文台的地震监测系统。整个地震监测系统涉及的范围广阔,包括不同类型地震仪的应用、地震学的数理知识和电脑系统所需要的程式编码,因此过去一年的工作极具挑战性。但伴随着上司和同事善意指导与支持, 最终能在一年的实习其间建立更精准和快捷的地震监测系统。除此之外,新的系统也成功试行加入人工智能监测和评估系统表现,进一步提升效能。除了电脑系统的工作以外,天文台也提供了不少机会让我认识和参与,例如考察天文台各大雷达站,地震仪的维修保养工作和不同地区和国际性议会,令我实习生涯多姿多采。这一年的实习令我更想进深参与科研工作,进一步研究和理解地球运作。

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.

在香港天文台实习一年是一个非常难得的经验。我的研究项目旨在使用海洋预测模型系统以预测西太平洋和南中国海范围的海洋气候资讯,过程中可以利用以下课程的知识:海洋与气候 (ESSC3300) 和地球系统科学的数值方法与建模 (ESSC4520 )。尽管我在这些方面只有非常基本的了解,但我的主管刘先生还是很耐心地提供指导和建议。除研究项目外,香港天文台还为实习生提供机会访问不同站点,例如潮汐站,雷达站和其他观测气象站,使我对天文台的日常操作有了更深入的了解。此外,香港天文台为实习生提供额外的培训课程,以提高我对建模的知识,这些经验亦使我有机会与不同的政府部门进行交流。总而言之,香港天文台实习是我大学生活中难忘的经历,以及让我为未来的职业道路做更多准备。

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.

人生由无数的选择交织而成。很庆幸,我能选择跳出自己的舒适圈,于天文台实习的经历改变了我的人生。并非与其他同伴一样研究电脑模式,我主要协助研究开发及设立城市中的微气候监测站。从挑选仪器、设计监测站的外型及内部结构、运用3D 打印技术将意念化为现实、进行不同的比较测试从而决定仪器及监测站间最合适的配搭,到寻觅地方建立微型的城市天气网络,都在亲切的导师指导下逐步实现。工作范围涵盖之广,让我能有机会与不同职位的同事紧密合作,一同外出工作,他们友善教导经验不足的我,对我的疑问亦耐心解答。这次实习不仅让我理解以前从未接触的木工技巧、3D打印技术,更改变了自己的思考模式,比起以往常流于理论层面,变得多从实际情况作出考量,思想亦比当初成熟不少。 很幸运,能在天文台实习一年实在获益匪浅,亦令我更确定人生将来的路向。

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.

刚过去的暑假,我有幸在天文台里进行为期两个月的实习工作。我在本科课程中学习到不少有关于大气科学的知识,而天文台正正给予我一个宝贵的机会让我把过去两年所学习到的科学知识应用出来。在这短短的两个多月中,我首先要为天文台过去的台风路径预测作出一些数据分析,然后再就这些分析建立一套风暴潮概率预报演算法,让天文台其他同事能够进行相关的风险评估。由实习初期对编程语言一窍不通,到最后经过多次尝试后成功研发出一套演算法,这有赖天文台其他同事全力协助及教导及与其他实习学生的共同研究及讨论,更重要的是天文台中的导师提出了不少方向令我能对自己的作品有所改善。 除研习工作外,我更可以与其他的实习生讨论研究成果,而最令我留下深刻印象的就是我的导师不时带我到平时不对外开放的气象站、潮汐站及地震测量站的参观。这两个月的工作确实令我对天文台的认识大增,亦令我结识了不少有相同兴趣的朋友,获益良多。

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

由于我对气象深感兴趣,在香港天文台工作是我自中学以来的一个愿望,因此我去年申请了天文台一年实习计划,有幸如愿以偿。我在实习时的主要研究范畴有关天气雷达和降雨预报。我学会了使用程式 (Python) 来处理数据和绘图,所以我的编程技巧有显著的进步。

除了在办公室工作外,我喜欢外出参观天文台的气象站,例如,我有机会参观京土柏和横澜岛气象站。实地考察的机会难能可贵,我可以探索气象站内许多我以前未见过的设备, 例如巨型探空气球和各种雨量计。若非与天文台工作人员一起去,平日我无法造访那些气象站。


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.

在天文台实习是非常良好的工作体验。天文台非常信任实习生,会对我们予以重任。在这种期望,及advisor耐心的指导及支援下,这一年收获实在太多。学校上课着重理论;实习却是着重实战:平日的工作装备你的technical skills, 你会接触到最尖端、最新的科技/知识,加上在台长面前汇报的机会,实在获益良多。一年过后,完成了自己的project, 看见自己的product被真正有需要的国家使用,并予以好评,那一刻,看见自己完成了一件很有意义的事情。而工作之余,与同事及同学们一起共度一年,换来了真至的友谊。

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.

在天文台实习是一个非常珍贵的体验。除了可以近距离观察天文台职员运用他们的专业知识为市民大众提供准确的预测服务、参观各个平时不对外开放的气象观察设施,实习生还有机会使用不会向大众公开、实时、高解象的气象数据来进行各式各样的研究。研究成果理想的话,甚至有机会被天文台采用。 这一年的实习期间,我要研究如何改善将雷达反射率转换成降雨量的运算法、利用人工神经网络将卫星图象转换成雷达反射率。 研究过程虽然辛苦,但从完全不懂到略懂一二、从惊惶失措到冷静地去尝试不同的解决方案、从只懂得单向地从老师中学习知识到明白到自己去找答案和与同伴讨论更能透彻地理解问题,我不但学了许多,也成长了许多。 在实习期间,我的导师给予了我许多机会去研究不同的课题,其他同事也在研究过程给予了我许多帮助,非常感谢他们。这一年的经历,坚定了我在科研路上努力的决心。

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.