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EC / RGC Collaboration Scheme - Layman Summaries of Projects Funded in 2016/17 Exercise

Real-Time High Accuracy Positioning with Multiple GNSS Constellations

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Prof Chen Wu (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
European Principal Investigator: Dr Aquino Marcio (University of Nottingham)

During last twenty years, we have witnessed rapid development in GNSS technology and widespread applications of GNSS. By 2020, there will be at least four major GNSS constellations (USA GPS, Russian GLONASS, Chinese Beidou, and European Galileo) and many regional augmentation systems in different parts of the world operational. It is expected the GNSS global markets will reach €300bn by 2020. In China, with the development of Chinese Beidou system, the GNSS market is expected to reach RMB 300bn in 2020.

Although the mass market for GNSS applications (mobile users) is currently low accuracy GNSS receivers in mobile devices, with the positioning accuracy of 5 – 10 m, it is expected the high accuracy GNSS market (1-10 cm positioning accuracy) will grow rapidly for many diversified applications, for example precision agriculture, autonomous car, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Thus, reliable, highly accurate accuracy, and real-time positioning technologies will be one of the key areas in GNSS research and development.

In this project, we will work closely with world leading universities and industries in the EC project to develop multiple GNSS high accuracy positioning algorithms to support reliable real-time GNSS positioning. The project will advance the state of art in this area, by improving the accuracy and the reliability of these techniques (to within a few centimetres) in real time, anywhere in the world, so that they can be introduced as part of a commercial service in the future.

Development of a Regional Prediction System for Seasonal Tropical Cyclone Landfall Prediction and Future Projections under Different Climate Change Scenarios

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Prof Johnny Chung-leung Chen (City University of Hong Kong)
European Principal Investigator: Dr Hattermann, Fred F (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

Seasonal prediction of tropical cyclone activity is important for government planners and the insurance industry in estimating the risk associated with the potential damage caused by tropical cyclones, especially at landfall. Similarly, future projections of such activity under various global warming scenarios are also very useful. However, most of the prediction methods (both statistical and dynamical) to date are for the basin-wide activity while the focus should be on the activity at landfall and in different sections of the coastline. Furthermore, the potential damage is best estimated based on the wind distribution rather than just the frequency of occurrence.

 This proposal is therefore to develop a prediction system that can provide seasonal prediction of landfalling tropical cyclone activity in a region in terms of both frequency and wind damage through the use of a nested modelling approach that includes coupling with the ocean. Extensive numerical experiments will be carried out to identify the optimum combination of physical processes to produce simulations that best match observations. Such a system will also be applied to project future landfalling tropical cyclone activity under different climate change scenarios.

The main deliverable of this project will be a regional climate prediction system that can be readily transferred to either the insurance sector or other government planners for future predictions or projections under different climate change scenarios. In addition, during the development of the system, new insights on the different physical processes necessary to produce reasonable predictions of TC landfalling activities will be obtained, which will lead to future improvements of model design and scientific understanding of these processes.

This project forms part of Tasks 1 and 3 of Work Package 2.2.1 Typhoon Climate Service of the Horizon2020 project entitled “Oasis Innovation Hub for Catastrophe and Climate Extremes Risk Assessment”.

Development of New Integrated Porous Pavement Systems and Implementation of Urban Nature Labs (UNaLab) Demonstration Projects in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Dr Wang Yuhong (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
European Principal Investigator: Prof Miimu Airaksinen (Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy)

The funded research is part of the study entitled Urban Nature Labs (UNaLab), to be implemented by a consortium of 29 partners from 15 countries. The research components responsible by European partners have been funded through the European Commission (EC)’s Horizon 2020 Research Scheme (Euro 12,768,931). This research deals with the components responsible by Hong Kong (HK) partners, funded separately by HK RGC (HK$2,522,619).

Many cities around the world are facing both water shortage and flooding problems caused by urban development and climate change. UNaLab aims to develop and identify nature-based solutions (NBS) for sustainable urban water management. Such solutions will be tested through real applications called “living labs,” which help evaluate community-participated project development processes and the effectiveness of the NBS. Data collected through the development and operation of “living labs” are anticipated to promote the adoption of the NBS in larger scales, hence creating genuine impacts on sustainable urban development.

HK partners are responsible for two research components in UNaLab: (1) to develop integrated porous pavement systems and their components as part of the NBS, and (2) to selectively adopt UNaLab NBS and implement them locally through “living labs”.

The new porous pavement systems aim to address challenges faced by traditional porous pavements, including low durability, clogging, constructability concerns, and high costs. Additionally, new technologies will be developed for auxiliary sub-systems, including water storage, water treatment, irrigation, water monitoring and distribution. Innovations from pavement engineering, structural engineering and material science, environmental science and engineering, hydrological and hydraulic engineering, information and communication technology will be integrated to create new generations of porous pavement systems, which will serve as a NBS toolkit for urban planners and developers worldwide.

The second component aims to: (1) develop “living lab” demonstration projects in HK through the involvement and empowerment of local communities, (2) assess the effectiveness of the adopted NBS in local contexts. Successful NBS used in other UNaLab partnering cities will be discussed in workshops involving academia, professionals, government agencies, and community representatives. Potentially NBS will be selected through focus group discussions, multi-criteria decision making techniques, and a variety of community engagement techniques. The effectiveness of the selected NBS in the demonstration projects will be assessed by life-cycle cost analysis, life-cycle assessment, and social impact analysis. The demonstration projects will provide evidence-based outcome assessment on the NBS project development methods and procedures and the effectiveness of the developed projects at different sustainability dimensions.

Delta-Flu: Dynamics of avian influenza in a changing world

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Dr Hui-Ling Yen (The University of Hong Kong)
European Principal Investigator: Prof Thomas C. Mettenleiter (Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut)

Host-specific influenza A viruses evolve from avian influenza viruses (AIV) through interspecies spillover followed by host adaptations. Spillover of AIV from wild aquatic birds, the natural reservoir, to domestic poultry may occur at overlapped habitats. This collaborative project aims to study the dynamic cycle of AIV infection/ transmission among wild birds, poultry, and mammals with overlapping interfaces where multiple virus-, host-, and environment-related factors may predispose the interspecies spill over events by certain AIV strains. Influenza viruses with a small genome size replicates rapidly by the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which lacks the proof reading mechanism; this allows the generation of genetically diverse variants that may adapt to different host species. From its wild bird reservoir to its incursion into domestic poultry, LPAIV may evolve into HPAIV as the fittest variant due to its high replication efficiency and cause significant economic loss in domestic poultry. The collaborative proposal will address the sequential events following the pathway of AIV from its reservoir in wild birds, its incursion into poultry holdings, and spillover into mammals. HKU as a member of the research team will study the transition of LAPIV to HPAIV in poultry with a focus on the H7N9 viruses that emerged in China in 2013. The proposed studies will help to identify specific viral and host factors restricting or predisposing such evolution and the knowledge can be applied for improving prevention and control strategies against this important disease.