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Sensors 2017, 17(8), 1864; doi:10.3390/s17081864

Real-Time Rain Rate Evaluation via Satellite Downlink Signal Attenuation Measurement

Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Informazione, University of Pisa, Pisa 56122, Italy
CNIT-Laboratorio Nazionale di Radar e Sistemi di Sorveglianza, Pisa 56124, Italy
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, CNR, Rome 00133, Italy
LaMMA Consortium, via Madonna del Piano 10, Sesto Fiorentino (FI) 50019, Italy
CNR IBIMET, Via Giovanni Caproni 8, Firenze 50145, Italy
MBI Srl, Pisa 56121, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 8 August 2017 / Accepted: 10 August 2017 / Published: 12 August 2017
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We present the NEFOCAST project (named by the contraction of “Nefele”, which is the Italian spelling for the mythological cloud nymph Nephele, and “forecast”), funded by the Tuscany Region, about the feasibility of a system for the detection and monitoring of precipitation fields over the regional territory based on the use of a widespread network of new-generation Eutelsat “SmartLNB” (smart low-noise block converter) domestic terminals. Though primarily intended for interactive satellite services, these devices can also be used as weather sensors, as they have the capability of measuring the rain-induced attenuation incurred by the downlink signal and relaying it on an auxiliary return channel. We illustrate the NEFOCAST system architecture, consisting of the network of ground sensor terminals, the space segment, and the service center, which has the task of processing the information relayed by the terminals for generating rain field maps. We discuss a few methods that allow the conversion of a rain attenuation measurement into an instantaneous rainfall rate. Specifically, we discuss an exponential model relating the specific rain attenuation to the rainfall rate, whose coefficients were obtained from extensive experimental data. The above model permits the inferring of the rainfall rate from the total signal attenuation provided by the SmartLNB and from the link geometry knowledge. Some preliminary results obtained from a SmartLNB installed in Pisa are presented and compared with the output of a conventional tipping bucket rain gauge. It is shown that the NEFOCAST sensor is able to track the fast-varying rainfall rate accurately with no delay, as opposed to a conventional gauge. View Full-Text
Keywords: satellite communication; rain fading; rain attenuation; meteorology; electromagnetic propagation in absorbing media; microwave propagation; weather sensors satellite communication; rain fading; rain attenuation; meteorology; electromagnetic propagation in absorbing media; microwave propagation; weather sensors

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Giannetti, F.; Reggiannini, R.; Moretti, M.; Adirosi, E.; Baldini, L.; Facheris, L.; Antonini, A.; Melani, S.; Bacci, G.; Petrolino, A.; Vaccaro, A. Real-Time Rain Rate Evaluation via Satellite Downlink Signal Attenuation Measurement. Sensors 2017, 17, 1864.

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