According to a study from Rutgers University in the USA, the widespread roll-out of 5G networks could present challenges for weather forecasting-related data collection systems.
“Our study – the first of its kind that quantifies the effect of 5G on weather prediction error – suggests that there is an impact on the accuracy of weather forecasts,” said senior author Narayan Mandayam, a Distinguished Professor at the Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB), who also chairs the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.
The peer-reviewed study, published at the 2020 IEEE 5G World Forum, noted that fifth-generation cellular wireless technology (5G) stems from better utilization of higher (mm Wave) frequencies for mobile communications. The Rutgers study used computer modeling to examine the impact of 5G “leakage” – unintended radiation from a transmitter into an adjacent frequency band or channel – on forecasting the deadly 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak in the South and Midwest.
The main issue is that the signals from the 5G frequency bands could potentially leak into the band used by weather sensors on satellites that measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and affect weather forecasting and predictions.
Based on modeling, the study found that 5G leakage power of -15 to -20 decibel watts (a decibel watt is a unit of power that describes the strength of radio waves) would have affected the accuracy of forecasting of precipitation (by up to 0.9mm) during the tornado outbreak and temperatures near ground level (by up to 2.34°F).
“It can be argued that the magnitude of error found in our study is insignificant or significant, depending on whether you represent the 5G community or the meteorological community, respectively,” Mandayam noted. “One of our takeaways is that if we want leakage to be at levels preferred by the 5G community, we need to work on more detailed models as well as antenna technology, dynamic reallocation of spectrum resources and improved weather forecasting algorithms that can take into account 5G leakage.”