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Sensors (Basel). 2017 Aug 12;17(8). pii: E1864. doi: 10.3390/s17081864.

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

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione, University of Pisa, Pisa 56122, Italy. filippo.giannetti@iet.unipi.it.
2
Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione, University of Pisa, Pisa 56122, Italy. ruggero.reggiannini@iet.unipi.it.
3
Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione, University of Pisa, Pisa 56122, Italy. marco.moretti@iet.unipi.it.
4
CNIT-Laboratorio Nazionale di Radar e Sistemi di Sorveglianza, Pisa 56124, Italy. elisa.adirosi@artov.isac.cnr.it.
5
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, CNR, Rome 00133, Italy. l.baldini@isac.cnr.it.
6
CNIT-Laboratorio Nazionale di Radar e Sistemi di Sorveglianza, Pisa 56124, Italy. luca.facheris@unifi.it.
7
LaMMA Consortium, via Madonna del Piano 10, Sesto Fiorentino (FI) 50019, Italy. antonini@lamma.rete.toscana.it.
8
CNR IBIMET, Via Giovanni Caproni 8, Firenze 50145, Italy. s.melani@ibimet.cnr.it.
9
MBI Srl, Pisa 56121, Italy. gbacci@mbigroup.it.
10
MBI Srl, Pisa 56121, Italy. apetrolino@mbigroup.it.
11
MBI Srl, Pisa 56121, Italy. avaccaro@mbigroup.it.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

electromagnetic propagation in absorbing media; meteorology; microwave propagation; rain attenuation; rain fading; satellite communication; weather sensors

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