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Journal article

Technical Note: Novel method for water vapour monitoring using wireless communication networks measurements

David N, Alpert P, Messer H...(+3 more)

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 9, issue 7 (2009) pp. 2413-2418

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Abstract

We propose a new technique that overcomes the obstacles of the existing
methods for monitoring near-surface water vapour, by estimating humidity
from data collected through existing wireless communication networks.
Weather conditions and atmospheric phenomena affect the electromagnetic
channel, causing attenuations to the radio signals. Thus, wireless
communication networks are in effect built-in environmental monitoring
facilities. The wireless microwave links, used in these networks, are
widely deployed by cellular providers for backhaul communication between
base stations, a few tens of meters above ground level. As a result, if
all available measurements are used, the proposed method can provide
moisture observations with high spatial resolution and potentially high
temporal resolution. Further, the implementation cost is minimal, since
the data used are already collected and saved by the cellular operators.
In addition-many of these links are installed in areas where access is
difficult such as orographic terrain and complex topography. As such,
our method enables measurements in places that have been hard to measure
in the past, or have never been measured before. The technique is
restricted to weather conditions which exclude rain, fog or clouds along
the propagation path. Strong winds that may cause movement of the link
transmitter or receiver (or both) may also interfere with the ability to
conduct accurate measurements. We present results from real-data
measurements taken from two microwave links used in a backhaul cellular
network that show convincing correlation to surface station humidity
measurements. The measurements were taken daily in two sites, one in
northern Israel (28 measurements), the other in central Israel (29
measurements). The correlation between the microwave link measurements
and the humidity gauges were 0.9 and 0.82 for the north and central
sites, respectively. The Root Mean Square Differences (RMSD) were 1.8
g/m(3) and 3.4 g/m(3) for the northern and central site measurements,
respectively.

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