Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cell Phone Towers Can Help Predict Big Floods

Date:
July 14, 2009
Source:
Tel Aviv University
Summary:
New research finds cell phone towers can help predict the next big flood.

Cellular antenna. Researchers say they have found a novel and reliable way to help predict the intensity of the next big flood, using common cell phone towers across the United States. Their model, which analyzes cell phone signals, adds a critical component to weather forecasting never before available.
Credit: iStockphoto/Andrew Nisbet

Though New Orleans residents were told to evacuate days before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, no one could have predicted the real extent of the devastation.

Related Articles


Now researchers from Tel Aviv University say they have found a novel and reliable way to help predict the intensity of the next big flood, using common cell phone towers across the United States. Their model, which analyzes cell phone signals, adds a critical component to weather forecasting never before available.

"By monitoring the specific and fluctuating atmospheric moisture around cell phone towers throughout America, we can cheaply, effectively and reliably provide a more accurate 'critical moisture distribution' level for fine-tuning model predictions of big floods," says Prof. Pinhas Alpert, a geophysicist and head of Tel Aviv University's Porter School for Environmental Education.

Prof. Alpert and his co-researchers Prof. Hagit Messer Yaron and doctoral fellow Noam David reported on their research in the April 2009 Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Information the weather girl can use

Cell phone towers emit radio waves that are diminished by moisture in the air, a factor that can be used to improve model warnings on flood levels. In addition, the researchers measured the rainfall distributions and were able to accurately estimate the size of impending floods before they struck. This was demonstrated in post-analysis of two case-studies of floods in the Judean Desert in Israel, where cell phone towers — and flash floods — are abundant.

Using real data measurements collected from the towers, the researchers demonstrated how microwave links in a cellular network correlated with surface station humidity measurements. The data provided by cell phone towers is the missing link weather forecasters need to improve the accuracy of flood forecasting. The microwave data used in this study was supplied by two cellular providers Cellcom and Pelephone in Israel.

Can texting save lives?

"Our method provides reliable measurement of moisture fields near the flood zone for the first time," notes Prof. Alpert, who also works with NASA on developing models to study global warming weather patterns. This new tool, he says, can add to the bigger picture of understanding climate change patterns in general.

"Accurate predictions of flooding were difficult before because there haven't been enough reliable measurements of moisture fields in remote locations," Prof. Alpert adds. Using the signals collected from cell phone towers as they communicate with base stations and our handsets, weather forecasters will now have a crucial missing piece of information for flood prediction that they never had before. It will permit forecasters and residents alike to more accurately gauge the danger they face from an impending flood.

Because hundreds of thousands of cell phone towers are already in place, the Tel Aviv University invention can be adopted quickly. And cell phone companies are already collecting the data anyway, as Americans continue to ramp up their minutes of call time every month.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tel Aviv University. "Cell Phone Towers Can Help Predict Big Floods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090706161304.htm>.
Tel Aviv University. (2009, July 14). Cell Phone Towers Can Help Predict Big Floods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090706161304.htm
Tel Aviv University. "Cell Phone Towers Can Help Predict Big Floods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090706161304.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins