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Mobile Meteorology

May 22, 2006

Your cell phone conversations may help meteorologists keep track of the weather.


How chit-chat can help meteorologists. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cell phone chatter may help scientists track global climate change. This according to electrical engineer Hagit Messer at Tel Aviv University in Israel. She explains that the telecommunications industry has thoroughly researched the effects of weather on cell phone calls. So she and her colleagues reversed the math, and got reliable rainfall estimates from fluctuations in wireless signals. Messer says this could help in remote areas that are getting cell phone service, but lack radar or other sophisticated meteorological instruments.

HAGIT MESSER (Tel Aviv University, Israel):
We offer a way to get very good coverage without having to put money into special-purpose equipment.

It could be the first useful application of our insatiable desire to carry on inane conversations no matter where we are. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.