3D Water vapour tomographic modelling

This project develops a 3D water vapour tomographic modelling technique to improve weather forecasting in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Extreme weather events have caused significant casualties and property damage worldwide in recent times (Goklany, 2009). Floods, as a typical extreme weather phenomenon in China, claimed more than 700 lives in 2010 alone, resulting in US $21 billion loss and damage (Bloomberg, 2010). These statistics highlight the dire need for a reliable and precise weather forecasting system for extreme weather events.

Water vapour is highly variable in space and time and significantly influences many weather and climate processes and the accuracy of current prediction and forecasting models. It plays an important role in cloud formation, redistribution of water and the control of temperature in the troposphere. In order to better monitor and predict extreme weather events, it is essential to analyse water vapour information (including quantity & uncertainty in the horizontal distribution, vertical profile, and in the time domain) through comprehensive and precise observation and modelling methods. Such analyses will provide crucial data to weather forecasting and climate modelling systems.

This project aims to develop an innovative, continuous, three-dimensional (3D) water vapour tomographic modelling technique using a multiple sensor system based on both ground- and space- based observation techniques. It is expected that the 3D water vapour distribution data extracted in this study of the Hong Kong and mainland China regions will be able to be input into Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) algorithms to improve forecasting accuracy.

This research will contribute to the improvement of NWP capabilities for Hong Kong and mainland China (particularly for extreme weather prediction). The outcomes of this research will have a significant impact reducing the number of casualties and level property loss incurred during extreme weather events. The outcomes of this research are fundamental for climate change monitoring, hydrological cycle research, planning and prediction of agriculture production, water resource management and environment related decision-making processes.


This is a joint research venture between the RMIT University SPACE Research Centre and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer