Vietnamese hydrologist Nguyen Hoang Minh has won the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) award for young scientists in 2021.
Minh, 34, from the Hanoi-based National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, has become the first Vietnamese weather forecaster to have received a WMO award.
Minh got the noble award for his research entitled “An approach for improving the capability of a coupled meteorological and hydrological model for rainfall and flood forecasts”.
“My research focuses on some of the most frequent and damaging natural phenomena in our country. Floods destroy hundreds of houses and cost the country millions of dollars in damage yearly. Being able to accurately forecast floods in a timely manner will give localities a head start in responding to natural disasters and help mitigate the damage,” Minh told The Hanoi Times.
He added that in the research process he also encountered difficulties when determining the methods and techniques used and how to develop and link those methods and techniques together to serve the ultimate purpose of improving flood forecasting accuracy.
The study gives a method for improving the capability of rainfall and flood forecasts in Vietnam by generating ensemble precipitation predictions and basing them on rainfall radar imagery.
Hydrologist Nguyen Hoang Minh. Photo: the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting
Minh said he did this research with the support of Deg-Hyo Bae, a South Korean scientist from Sejong University, and it was published in the Journal of Hydrology, one of the most respected journals in the field, in 2019.
“My approach, which has been developed during my studies in South Korea, is to combine a series of traditional forecasting methodologies with the advanced technology designed to forecast rainfall. My method was put to the test at Han River's flooding in Seoul during the period of 2013-2016 and produced positive results, improving accuracy from 32% to 59% and 15% to 39%,” he added.
Minh’s research has been highly valued by the world’s leading experts in the field, Deg-Hyo Bae said, adding that its results have been applied in Vietnam.
Deg-Hyo Bae noted that to forecast floods a lot of information was required and Minh’s study can do an accurate forecast of rainfall which would be a tremendous help for Vietnam's localities to prepare as droughts severely hurt crops and livestock while floods devastate infrastructure and local communities.
Dr. Tran Hong Thai, general director of the Vietnam Meteorology and Hydrological Administration, also affirmed that ensemble precipitation predictions in Minh’s study are generated as a kind of Monte-Carlo simulation based on the performance of the numerical weather prediction model.
“The generated ensemble precipitation predictions continue to be blended with radar-based rainfall predictions to produce hybrid rainfall forecasts that perform better than each system could perform individually,” Thai told The Hanoi Times.
This is a technical assistance project to build real-time flooding prediction technology for Vietnam’s flooded areas, Thai said, adding that Minh’s research has assisted Vietnam's meteorological and hydrological sector in effectively monitoring, warning and forecasting flooding.
Forecasting and early warning about flood risks allow authorities to make better decisions and proactively take action in deploying rescue and intervention activities where they are most needed as well as timely notification to people living in high-risk areas, Thai stressed.
The World Meteorological Congress in 1967 established WMO Awards for outstanding scientific research works, which recognize contributions in the field of meteorology, breakthroughs in scientific research, and young engineers for their exceptional contributions to meteorology, climatology, hydrometeorology.
The Executive Council has been granting the prize annually since 1970, with a view to encouraging young scientists, particularly in developing countries. The award has been so far granted to scientists from more than 20 different countries.