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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
01 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).
An urban microwave link rainfall measurement campaign
Thomas C. van Leth1, Aart Overeem1,2, Remko Uijlenhoet1, and Hidde Leijnse2 1Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands
2Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) , P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE, De Bilt, the Netherlands
Abstract. Microwave links from cellular communication networks have been shown to be able to provide valuable information concerning the space-time variability of rainfall. In particular over urban areas, where network densities are generally high, they have the potential to complement existing dedicated infrastructure to measure rainfall (gauges, radars). In addition, microwave links provide a great opportunity for ground-based rainfall measurement for those land surface areas of the world where gauges and radars are generally lacking. Such information is not only crucial for water management and agriculture, but also for instance for ground validation of space-borne rainfall estimates such as those provided by the GPM (Global Precipitation Measurement) mission.

The campaign described in this paper is dedicated to address several errors and uncertainties associated with such quantitative precipitation estimates in detail. The core of the experiment is provided by three co-located microwave links installed between two major buildings on the Wageningen University campus, approximately 2 km apart: a 38 GHz commercial microwave link, and 26 GHz and 38 GHz (dual-polarization) research microwave links. Transmitting and receiving antennas have been attached to masts installed on the roofs of the two buildings, about 30 m above the ground. This setup has been complemented with an infrared large-aperture scintillometer, installed over the same path, as well as 5 laser disdrometers and an automated rain gauge positioned at several locations along the path. Temporal sampling of the received signals was performed at a rate of 20 Hz. The setup is being monitored by time-lapse cameras to assess the state of the antennas as well as the atmosphere. The experiment has been active between August 2014 and December 2015.

Data from an existing automated weather station situated just outside Wageningen was further used to compare and to interpret the findings. We find that a basic rainfall retrieval algorithm with no corrections already provides a reasonable correlation to rainfall as measured by the disdrometers. The microwave links do give a significant overestimation. We further investigate several events covering different attenuating phenomena: Rainfall, solid precipitation, temperature, dew, antenna wetting and clutter. We also briefly explore cases where several phenomena play a role. We conclude that the response of different makes of microwave antennas to many of these phenomena is significantly different even under the exact same operating conditions and configuration.

Citation: van Leth, T. C., Overeem, A., Uijlenhoet, R., and Leijnse, H.: An urban microwave link rainfall measurement campaign, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Thomas C. van Leth et al.
Thomas C. van Leth et al.
Thomas C. van Leth et al.


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Short summary
We present a campaign to address several error sources associated with precipitation estimates from microwave links in cellular communication networks. The set-up consists of three co-located links, complemented with reference instruments. We investigate events covering different attenuating phenomena. There is a difference in response to many of these phenomena between the antennas under the same operating conditions and configuration.
We present a campaign to address several error sources associated with precipitation estimates...