MUST President Joseph Lee Hun-wei

MUST in charge of pioneering research to predict storms and floods

The president of the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) received MOP1.14 million (US$140,994) in funding to lead a pioneering investigation into severe weather conditions in the SAR.

“It is important, because of the impact of climate change on extreme weather conditions and floods in Macau,” Joseph Lee Hun-wei, president of MUST, told Lusa in an interview.

Granted by the Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT) and the Science and Technology Department of Guangdong Province, the support will support, according to the official, “fundamental research for forecasting storms and floods” in the region. Chinese administrative region.

“The idea is to improve this ability to predict the weather in Macau”, noted the specialist in the field of hydraulic and environmental engineering.

The three-year project focuses on Hac Sa Bay in Coloane, an area “that has not yet been well studied”, and which places MUST at the forefront of local climate research: they will be carried out “ the first field measurements of waves and sea currents in Macau”, with instruments and sensors to be deposited on site.

It is also the first “in-depth collaboration” with an “important hydraulic research center in Guangdong province” – the Pearl River Water Resources Scientific Study Institute.

Macau is affected annually by typhoons of different categories, the period between July and September being the most critical.

This year, between five and eight tropical cyclones are expected in the region, according to anticipation made in March by the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG), which stressed that “climate extremes continue to occur and tropical cyclones continue to increase” in the territory.

Since 2017, two typhoons have forced the authorities to issue the highest alert (signal 10).

The passage of the Mangkhut in 2018 left economic damage worth MOP1.74 billion and caused 40 injuries and serious flooding. A year earlier, Hato caused 10 deaths, 240 injuries and damage estimated at MOP12.55 billion.

The passage of typhoons through the territory is usually accompanied by severe flooding, especially in the lower areas of the peninsula, where traders and local inhabitants are usually affected.

Joseph Lee has dedicated himself in recent years to the study of solutions in the field of engineering to mitigate the impact of climate change on heritage and cities. He has been involved in projects in the Mong Kok and Happy Valley areas of Hong Kong, where, in order to reduce the effects of floods, solutions such as the drainage of rainwater through underground tunnels that transport the water to the sea were chosen.

To deal with severe weather events in Macau, such as storms, the engineer defended, at the end of April, during a ‘webinar’ organized by the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a “combination of solutions based on nature”, such as the development of mangroves that can help reduce the impact of waves in the event of typhoons, and “structural solutions”.

“Here, underground and drainage networks can be quite relevant, because, in my understanding, when the typhoon arrives, seawater can return through the network and flood the city, that is, [floods] are not just caused by the rain”, he said.

“Nature-based solutions are important, but they need a scientific basis. The question is, could the government support this very important type of investigation,” he added.

To Lusa, the president of MUST also said that in relation to the other cities in the Greater Bay area, Macau “is just getting started” in research in the area of ​​Environmental and Hydraulic Engineering.

“We don’t have enough people or researchers”, admitted the expert, stressing that it would be important to work together with other cities in the region.

“But to work effectively with other partners, you have to have a certain depth already”, noted Lee, noting that the small region has not yet reached that level.