Applied Physics Students’ Field Trip To Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department (BDMD)

Article prepared by Ziana binti Hj Zaini, AK Mohd Khiya’arul Asry Pg Mohd Yussof
and edited by Dr Natasha Keasberry

As part of the module SP-4302 Environmental Physics, a total of 24 Applied Physics students participated in an educational trip to the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department (BDMD) on the 4th of April 2017. The group was accompanied by Dr. Zarifi Masri, the module coordinator, along with 4 other staff members namely Md Qawiem bin Hj Md Jamil, Khairul Azimin bin Hj Rosli and Muhd Nur Naqiuddin bin Hj Osman. The main objective of the visit was to give students further insight into the field of meteorology and shed some light on the function of BDMD and the various daily tasks and activities which they are responsible for. BDMD is divided into 6 divisions and the group got to visit 2 divisions, namely the Weather Observation Division and the Weather Forecast Division.

The group was warmly welcomed by Shahalmie bin Haji Emran, Head of General Administration and Finance at BDMD, who is also a graduate of UBD’s Applied Physics Programme (2005 intake), and Hassanul Kamal bin Haji Adam, Head of Weather Observation Division, with a brief introduction to the department and its divisions. The group was brought to the Meteorological Observation Station and given a mini tour around the main office, which was situated in Jalan Kustin. The main role of the division is to observe the weather and environmental conditions of the surroundings. Initially, these weather observations were made to service the Aviation Industry and Royal Brunei Airlines, but as the years progressed, weather observations and weather forecasting are now made available for the public. Weather observations are made and recorded not only by mechanical and technical techniques but also simply by sight. These observations are then reported to the Weather Forecast Division for every 30 minutes. Observing the presence of storm-bearing clouds called cumulonimbus clouds around the area was also emphasized as it poses a threat to aircraft.

Hassanul Kamal bin Haji Adam (L), Head of Weather Observation Division, briefing the group.

Clockwise (L-R): Dayang Chong Kim Lian demonstrating some of the instruments on the rooftop of the Meteorological Observation Station, sunshine recorder, students trying out the theodolite, and some of the Applied Physics students who attended the visit.

The group then observed a series of demonstrations of the different instruments used in monitoring the weather and climate. These include the standard Stevenson Screen, barometer, wind vane, anemometer, dry and wet bulb thermometer, hygrometer, rain gauges and many more. But out of all these instruments, the radiosonde captured the whole group’s attention as it is an instrument that is carried by a helium or hydrogen-filled balloon to altitudes up to 30,000 metres high up in the atmosphere and transmits weather data by radio to the receiver located at the Meteorological Observation Station. The data are processed and used to create an instantaneous picture of weather conditions throughout the process. As the weather balloon keeps rising, the balloon expands and eventually bursts. The burst balloon with radiosonde attached then falls back down to the earth or to sea. Following the demonstrations, the group briefly headed to the rooftop of the station, where more observation instruments were placed. Some of these instruments include the ‘crystal ball’ sunshine recorder, an optical theodolite and more.

The entourage was then brought to the Meteorological Garden or in short, the ‘Met Garden’. It is the site where different measuring instruments are placed all together for the collection and measurements of meteorological quantities. The quantities being measured are air temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, type and amount of precipitation and more. The information obtained from the reading is passed back to the Meteorological Observation Station to be analyzed and further passed on to other divisions, specifically the Weather Forecast Division.

The group made its final stop at the Weather Forecast Division. The Weather Forecast Division is responsible for predicting or estimating the local daily weather based on the information provided by the Weather Observation Division, including from the Met Garden. They provide forecasts, warnings and advisories to the public, based on their estimations, and these can be accessed through the BDMD website ( or through the smartphone-based application called ‘Brunei Weather’.

The Meteorological officer, Dayang Nurulinani Binti Haji Jahari, who was on duty at the Weather Forecast Division during that day and Dayang Chong Kim Lian, the Meteorological Supervisor at BDMD, welcomed the group’s visit and explained about their roles in analyzing and scrutinizing weather data before disseminating it to the public. Other than observing weather locally, the division also observes weather from around the world as well as monitoring the global atmospheric motion through the various network links with other meteorological organizations around the world.

Some of the meteorological instruments in the Met Garden(L-R): Vane anemometer, electronic temperature sensor, automatic rain gauge, open pan evaporimeter and Stevenson screen.

Dayang Nurulinani Binti Haji Jahari briefing the group on weather forecasting. In the background are weather observation screens that are used in the forecast centre.

The visit concluded with some refreshments and gifts being distributed by BDMD officers and a group photo session. The students found the overall experience to be very informative and interesting all at once. Through this visit, the group was able to learn and study more about environmental physics beyond what was studied in the lectures. The visit was an eye-opening experience for the students especially finding out that BDMD holds an important job in providing valuable information for warning and safety reasons for the public.

The students are grateful to the Applied Physics staff for this opportunity and hope that they will continue to conduct this visit for future students. The students also express their heartfelt thanks to the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department, the officers and staff that helped organize the visit and for giving them the opportunity to see real life applications, as well as study and understand more about the weather and the environment.

Group photo with BDMD officers and staff