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Mobile phone cell towers used for accurate weather forecasts

If it's wet, it's probably raining
Mon Jul 14 2014, 16:04

ISRAELI RESEARCHERS have developed a way to improve weather reporting accuracy by using signals from mobile phone towers.

Israeli news website reports that professor Hagit Messer of Tel Aviv University has discovered that the round antennae used in higher frequency systems between 10GHz and 40GHz can aid in accurate measurement of rain, snow and even fog.

The data is obtained through measurement of the degradation of high frequency radio signals from the towers caused by the elements. Initially this meant detecting rainfall, however, as the system has been refined successfully, sleet, wind, hail and even fog are distinguishable.

This data can be combined with existing methods such as radar, and claims more accurate results than anything that has gone before.

Although the technique is patented, professor Messer believes that it should be used for public good and continues to find ways to improve it, as well as seeking suitable applications, beyond simply monetising the technology.

In 2011, Apple was criticised after it turned out that the then new iPhone 4 was not capable of operating in cold weather, while in June a Google weather balloon being used for its Project Loon WiFi experiments caused emergency services to scramble after it was mistaken for a vessel in trouble.

The accuracy of the data from mobile phone towers is so good that could be used by the mobile carriers to provide micro-weather forecasts to people connected to each specific cell tower.

Alternatively, they could just look out the window. µ


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