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New Technology Uses Cellular Towers For Super-Accurate Weather Measurements

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the gives-each-droplet-ipv6-address dept.

Communications 42

Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "Israeli scientists from the Tel Aviv University perfected a method for using cell phone service towers' microwave emitters to measure rain and snow and even (for the first time ) detect fog with great accuracy over vast areas in real time. The research team members have analyzed endless amounts of raw cellular data and developed more accurate ways to measure meteorological information and added more parameters that they can now measure using their growing database. When combined with existing meteorological monitoring technologies such as radars and local ground based weather stations, the results show unprecedented level of accuracy that can give better and further weather forecast as well as special warnings about upcoming floods, fog and hail which can affect both people and crop production."

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42 comments

We live in the future (2, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about two weeks ago | (#47440181)

Too bad the post office isn't as efficient as the weather service.

Re:We live in the future (2, Insightful)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about two weeks ago | (#47440223)

+1 hoverboards don't work on water.

Re:We live in the future (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440327)

Unless you have POWAH! ...you bojo.

Re:We live in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440413)

Too bad the post office isn't as efficient as the weather service.

Not quite. Currently we are living in the present, but we will be living in the future if we are still alive tomorrow.

Re:We live in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440683)

Unless the present catches up with us until then.

Re:We live in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440713)

What if I told you that you live in a prison you canot smell nor taste?
You do live in the past. Only zion people live in the (symbiotic?) present.

ZION MUST NOT FALL AGAIN!!!!

Re:We live in the future tsarkon reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47441023)

Very, very simple.

USPS has 491,000 employees, and has peaked at 779,083 employees.

Since 1960 it has had more than 491,000 employees.

This is a CRIPPLING number of people on pay and obviously pension.

FedEx currently has 300,000 employees and they all work.

NOAA has ~12,000 employees, which even if half of them dont do any work

tsarkon reports

tsarkon == moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47442357)

“ For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
    — H. L. Mencken.

USPS handles the volume of mail Fedex does every day. They also serve more customers in more places. Go to rural Alaska, send a postcard via USPS. Fedex will not be available, but your postcard will arrive at its destination quickly. Go to any country in Central America. Fedex will be available in major cities. Using the postal system will be an exercise in futility.

USPS is a strong candidate for the best postal system in the world. Don't you have a bridge to be lurking under?

Re:tsarkon == moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47442913)

Learn to use fucking email you backwoods retard.

Re:We live in the future tsarkon reports (1)

sjames (1099) | about two weeks ago | (#47442529)

Fedex depends on USPS for last mile delivery in a lot of places. USPS handles orders of magnitude more deliveries than Fedex.

Based on that, they are much MORE efficient than Fedex.

Re:We live in the future tsarkon reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47442945)

Learn to use email. I thought you big government leftist types like to save trees. Well USPS wastes the most trees by far.

I also note that the USPS gets used to send me mountains of trash unsolicited mail which is wasteful and useless to me.

A huge part of identity fraud is from people taking insecure USPS mail and lifting private information

Also of note that exactly none of my Amazon purchases come in USPS. Funny, as Amazon is known for brutal efficiency.

Whenever I see you or your fat, blue clothed leftist Statist fat pigs walking around in your cankel blue socks and your stupid key chains and your stupid sack I think of all the retirement money you and your hairy moles will get at the expense of my children's future income.

Thank you for your fail, Stalinist police state loving medicoritomaton. That's right your an automaton of mediocrity serving the police state.

Re:We live in the future tsarkon reports (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47442957)

Hey, fuckstick, learn to use email. I thought you left wing police state communist shitheads want to save the trees. And your police state government can spy on emails instead of handing our information to identity thieves.

Re:We live in the future tsarkon reports (2, Funny)

sjames (1099) | about two weeks ago | (#47443055)

Awwww, did I make someone feel like a braying ass?

Who's a braying ass? YOU're a braying ass, yes you ARE!

Learn to speak like a grownup and I'll stop with the baby talk.

Re:We live in the future tsarkon reports (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about two weeks ago | (#47444303)

I do a reference to Back to the Future III, and you guys go on to debate about the USPS.

Re:We live in the future (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about two weeks ago | (#47441357)

Too bad the post office isn't as efficient as the weather service.

Actually, the post office is remarkably efficient, given the volumes of mail they carry. USPS alone, in one day carries more than FedEx annually, and in 3, more than UPS. (Take that, late Christmas 2013 presents).

They have to be efficient otherwise the whole system breaks down in short order. And by law of big numbers, of course, they'll run into problems. It ain't nice when it happens via the mail, but FedEx and UPS can be completely hopeless when it's their package. (You'd think with all that tracking information they could easily find a missing or lost package, but no. If a package gets scanned out but not scanned in, you're SOL).

Re:We live in the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47442963)

Lol. Everything I get from UPS and FedEx I want.

Everything in USPS is unsolicited junk mail. You volume numbers are bogus without bulk and junk mail and you know it.

The main way identities are stolen are via private information sitting in snail mailboxes. Look it up

Re:We live in the future (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about two weeks ago | (#47444309)

Actually, the post office is remarkably efficient, given the volumes of mail they carry.

But their bad reputation also works well for providing excuses.

"What do you mean you didn't get that check? I mailed it a week ago! Damn post office..."

NSA - National Storm Agency (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440205)

In a related story, the NSA has received generous funding to start producing detailed weather forecasts.

If it's as accurate as iron dome, we'll pass (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440213)

thanks though.

More measurements! (1)

thieh (3654731) | about two weeks ago | (#47440257)

What about UV index or temperature or humidity? I meant if they arent measured on the same spot as everything else then the usefulness of those will suffer

Re:More measurements! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440687)

What about UV index or temperature or humidity? I meant if they arent measured on the same spot as everything else then the usefulness of those will suffer

The mea

i told ya (0)

skoony (998136) | about two weeks ago | (#47440365)

now we will know for sure. with super accurate readings there will be no doubt that the earth is cooling,heating, or staying the same. and of course it should be biased to all the old unscientific data that was found before. regards mike

Military Applications (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440383)

What are the militatry applications for this technology?
How can it help Israel exterminate moar Palestinians?

Re:Military Applications (1)

Grow Old Timber (1071718) | about two weeks ago | (#47440869)

Let see WWII era non guided rockets vs US supplied Laser guided missiles Some kind of dire conflict my ass

Re:Military Applications (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about two weeks ago | (#47441897)

The military application is that it is rumoured to be able to detect stealth aircraft.

Re:Military Applications (2)

cellocgw (617879) | about two weeks ago | (#47442021)

The military application is that it is rumoured to be able to detect stealth aircraft.

No rumor that. Dunno about cell towers, but it was shown pretty conclusively in the '90s that the "hole in the sky" caused when a stealth aircraft blocks FM radio signals can be seen. Depends of course on having a good FM sensor and a solid transmitter or two in the area.

settled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440515)

Climate change is settled science yet our current measurement systems are not optimal. And computer models tell us about historic data that wasn't really even measured.

Does it violate international laws? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440565)

I mean why would Israel want it if it doesn't flout international law anyway?

Sounds like radar to me. (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about two weeks ago | (#47440667)

The only differences being that with cell towers, the receivers and transmitters are controlled by two independent parties and the signal itself was not intended for that particular purpose.

You know exactly where the tower is, you can easily reconstruct the RF signal as-transmitted by receiving the bitstream yourself and calculating the original signal as-sent. All that is left to do is compute the correlation between measured signals across your receiver network and weather along the receiver-transmitter path and their immediate surroundings.

This is a bit like a radar version of passive sonar.

Re:Sounds like radar to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47440711)

Not really. I don't know exactly what those researchers did, but if I had to take a guess, I would imagine that they're measuring not just signal strength, but propagation latency shifts. This is possible with most QAM receivers because you have to track errors of amplitude and phase continuously anyway.

If all they did was to collect and average the drifts they measure, they could very accurately infer how much moisture and thermal activity is present along the path.

Re:Sounds like radar to me. (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about two weeks ago | (#47450295)

If you want to use sonar to map the ocean, you measure multi-path delays, phase shift, attenuation, etc. using a receiver array too.

Radar does much of the same as well: you need the delay to calculate the distance, phase/doppler shift to calculate the speed and heading, signal strength to estimate the cross-section, etc.

You can go way beyond just measuring drift from nominal values. With a distributed receiver array, they could probably use multi-path delays, reflection, attenuation, etc. from thermals, air currents, moisture, etc. to calculate temperature and other parameters almost anywhere within the network's airspace.

The forecast for Gaza today is.... (-1, Troll)

JabrTheHut (640719) | about two weeks ago | (#47440769)

The forecast for Gaza today is large amounts of rocket-propelled precipitation.

Looking at the article, which is shockingly badly written, it's a perfected method not in use anywhere in the world, including Israel, and the map they use for Israel includes the West Bank and Gaza, something that only Israel, in the whole wide world, does.

Expect lots of PR bullshit from Israel over the next few weeks while they bomb the crap out of Palestinians in Gaza...

Re:The forecast for Gaza today is.... (0, Troll)

schlachter (862210) | about two weeks ago | (#47441067)

Your statements are either out of ignorance or hate/bigotry.

Hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel in the past month alone. Israel didn't respond. Finally Israel said if you don't stop, we will respond. And what happened? The rocket fire rate increase. Even now, as Israel makes half attempts to stop the rocket fire with limited strikes, they have offered Gaza a ceasefire if they stop the rocket attacks. Gaza refused, saying they want to fight this war to the bitter end. The Gazans only have themselves to blame for drawing a reluctant Israel into a pointless war.

Feel bad for all the rational civilians who are caught up in this nonsense on both sides, but don't act like the Palestinians are innocent victims.

Re:The forecast for Gaza today is.... (-1, Troll)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about two weeks ago | (#47441125)

Would you guys mind taking this argument to somewhere where it's relevant?

Weather Rules (4, Funny)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about two weeks ago | (#47441075)

Turns out that it's easy to measure the weather with a cell phone tower.

  • If cell phone tower casts a shadow, the sun is shining.
  • If tower is wet, it is raining.
  • If tower is white, it is snowing
  • If tower is swaying back and forth, there is a high wind.

...

Re:Weather Rules (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47441385)

You're missing a few. A more extensive list here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_rock

Confidentiality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47441231)

The research team members have analyzed endless amounts of raw cellular data and...

I'm left wondering:
First I learned about the "partners" that charge for "premium" services (such as third party "text messaging"-based services). I learned about that because of charges showing up on cell phone bills. Then I learned about the data that has been getting delivered to the NSA. Now I read that cell phone companies are providing the raw data from their towers, by sharing these details to people who have newfangled ideas about how to predict the weather.

Is there anybody that the cell phone companies doesn't share information with?

Customers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47441239)

We all know the answer to that : these companies must prevent customers from being able to have answers about their own bills, or else there'd be risk of accountability.

Finally Sprint put to good use (0)

gelfling (6534) | about two weeks ago | (#47442163)

Because using their cell towers as cell towers is pretty much a complete fucking waste of time. (yes I know cell towers are owned and operated by 3rd parties)

Ditto GPS (1)

peter303 (12292) | about two weeks ago | (#47443157)

Mositure and temprature variations causes bending of GPS wavepaths and small delays. Geophysicists ave been studying the "noise" in large scale GPS data to measure atmospheric conditions. Right now this mostly from dedicated high frequency tectonics GPS stations like Earthscope. There could be a way to "crowdsource" smartphone users for more data.

Wow, this was a hot topic a decade ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47443659)

Rain fade, it's not a bug, it is a feature!

Could this be used for detecting rockets/mortars? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about two weeks ago | (#47447443)

I wonder if they could extend and improve their "iron dome" with this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... [wikipedia.org]

Would be great if they could knock all the Palestinian missiles out of the air instead of bombing the sh*t out of the lauch sites (which the launchers tend to put in urban areas).

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