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Navigating the Skies with Heart: The Path to Meteorology

Christy Leung



The sky might be divided by country borders, but meteorology doesn’t recognise boundaries; it brings us all together under a single forecast.’ 


Ms Christy Leung

Ms Christy LEUNG
Scientific Officer at the
Hong Kong Observatory

Advanced Certificate in
Emergency and Disaster Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

MSc in Applied Meteorology, University of Reading

BSc in Physics and Astronomy,
The University of Hong Kong

Breaking the ice with someone new often starts with a familiar topic. So, when I met Christy LEUNG, an alumna of the Department of Physics, for the first time, I chose a classic opener: the weather. ‘Looks like it’s going to cool down tonight,’ I remarked. While most might just nod, Christy, being a meteorologist, had a different take.


‘Actually,’ she said, ‘the temperature’s set to drop tonight to around ten degrees. And there’s rain with windy condition in the forecast, too.’ After a brief pause, she smoothly transitioned into a fascinating insight, ‘That means we’ll feel colder than what the thermometer shows, thanks to the apparent temperature, which takes into account relative humidity and wind speed.’ Her professionalism left a lasting impression; it was like talking to a meteorological wizard, getting real-time forecasts and valuable educational insights.
What made the perfect ‘Miss Weather’?
As a Scientific Officer at the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), Christy embodies the role of a serious scientist in meteorology. Yet, it is her role in HKO’s TV weather programme ‘Weather On-Air’ that truly engages audiences. This carefully crafted programme provides free TV weather services to local stations, showcasing Christy’s invaluable involvement. However, her role goes beyond hosting. As a forecaster, she delves into weather analysis, scrutinising data and models. Through her expertise, she predicts weather patterns and keenly observes how subtle changes can influence Hong Kong’s weather.

At first, transitioning into weather reporting felt daunting for Christy. ‘My university training focused on scientific analysis and research, so facing the camera felt unnatural,’ she admitted. Yet, with dedicated training and guidance, she mastered on-screen presence, breaking free from the academic stereotype and stepping confidently into the spotlight. 
Leveraging her expertise in weather forecasting, Christy simplifies intricate meteorological scenarios, ensuring vital information reaches the public. Her mission is to bridge science with everyday life. ‘I believe when both roles of weather forecaster and presenter blend seamlessly, one can rightfully earns the title of “Miss Weather”.’
Christy now only makes occasional appearance for weather reporting, as her primary focus has shifted towards her role within the HKO International Aviation Meteorological Collaboration, which is under the Aviation Weather Services Branch.
Boosting Aviation Meteorology and Safety
Christy at workOne primary responsibility of her team is to support the Asian Aviation Meteorological Centre, which is co-established by the HKO and dedicated to delivering top-notch meteorological services to the aviation sector across the Asia-Pacific region. The goal is to reinforce flight safety and efficiency by providing high-quality meteorological assistance. 
Christy fully dedicates herself to supporting her team, engaging in tasks ranging from monitoring aviation meteorology to developing aviation forecast products. In addition, she leads research efforts focused on various areas, such as turbulence and convection forecasting, utilising her findings to develop precise models that occasionally employ AI and coding. Through her multifaceted contributions, Christy plays a vital role in advancing aviation meteorology and flight safety.

Despite the development of modern technology in Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), the Airport faced a challenging weather condition when it commenced operation in Chek Lap Kok as there is frequent wind shear and turbulence due to its close proximity and orientation towards Lantau Island. Pilots have quoted that HKIA is one of the most challenging landing spots. Consequently, the territory has seen the emergence of numerous aviation specialists. The HKO, in particular, stands out globally for its pioneering advancements on windshear and turbulence alerting technology using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and it is currently designated as the World Meteorological Organization Measurement Lead Centre for Doppler LIDAR Systems for Aviation Applications. 
Christy at workChristy was also involved in the development of an HKO’s app, ‘My Flight Weather’ (MyFlightWx), the world’s premier Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Weather App developed by a meteorological authority. Collaborating with Cathay Pacific, the app was officially launched in 2019, equipping flight crews with real-time weather updates, including airport weather reports, aerodrome forecasts, and alerts for hazardous weather conditions. The app covers the entire airways, including phenomena like volcanic ash and icing. This advancement has significantly improved aviation safety and efficiency.

Given the complexity of her work, I asked her to simplify it for the readers. She took a moment and said, ‘I believe weather forecasting involves two main aspects: thorough observation and forecasting. This requires using instruments with latest technology to observe present conditions, such as ice on the runway or the rainfall. Once we have a clear understanding of present conditions, we can forecast the weather ahead as best we can.’

The Career Path of Meteorologist

Christy’s interest in the Observatory sparked during her time in Form 2 while working on the school newspaper. She took the initiative to email the then-director, Mr Chiu-ying LAM, and was granted the opportunity for an interview. Mr Lam suggested, ‘If you want to work at the Observatory, you should study physics.’ Inspired by her interest in relativity theory and her enjoyment of physics, Christy chose to pursue that field. 
Today, Observatory positions extend beyond physics majors to include mathematics, meteorology, and nuclear science students. Yet, it is more than just academic background.
‘This profession demands a genuine desire to serve the public and apply scientific knowledge in everyday life. Strong communication skills are also essential, as officers must be comfortable speaking publicly. It’s about using hard science to tackle real-world challenges, and that’s what excites me.’

While weather may be dynamic and ever-changing, paving the way as a scientist is a predictable and step-by-step journey towards achieving one's goals.


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