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Wed May 15, 2019, 09:33 PM

Meteorologists Worry 5G Expansion Could Interfere With Weather Forecasts

(Apologies if already posted)

The Trump Administration’s swift-moving plan to promote 5G networks is running into resistance from the weather-forecasting community. The dispute centers around ultrahigh radio frequencies that the Federal Communications Commission recently auctioned off for use in the country’s next-generation wireless networks. Officials at other agencies, including the Department of Commerce and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, warn that those airwaves—specifically those above 24 gigahertz—could scramble nearby readings from the federal weather satellites that meteorologists use to make storm predictions.

The concerns for now are theoretical, as cellphone carriers’ early upgrades have focused on other frequencies. But weather researchers worry interference could endanger future forecasts. Scientists warn the FCC’s plan “would substantially impact the accuracy of weather forecasts” used to gauge the risks from hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe weather, according to a recent letter U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) wrote to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The national security and public safety implications of this self-inflicted degradation in American weather prediction capabilities would be significant,” they added, citing an internal U.S. Navy working document that raised concerns over interference with navigation.


Some weather forecasters say the latest 5G auction is different because it would create wireless activity close to natural microwave emissions from water vapor. The signals come from water itself and are often so faint that even minute wireless activity nearby could mar the satellites’ measurements.


A compromise is possible. The Navy document the senators cited in their letter suggested the FCC could simply use its authority to tighten the power limits placed on devices that send signals close to the band the satellites read, for instance. Forecasters could also use software algorithms to detect and compensate for urban 5G interference.

Technology experts are putting high hopes on the economic promise of 5G technology, which is designed to carry more data over the air and make wireless connections more responsive. But not all 5G frequencies are valued the same. The latest completed auction gathered roughly $700 million from winning bidders, which is less than the auction that came before it. Some wireless engineers also warn that nature could fight back. Trees and buildings can block some high-frequency signals that companies are counting on to carry their data. At some frequencies, airborne transmissions face another obstacle: moisture.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/meteorologists-worry-5g-expansion-could-interfere-with-weather-forecasts-11557849990 (paid subscription)

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Reply Meteorologists Worry 5G Expansion Could Interfere With Weather Forecasts (Original post)
question everything May 2019 OP
mahatmakanejeeves May 2019 #1

Response to question everything (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2019, 01:36 PM

1. 5G Networks Could Throw Weather Forecasting Into Chaos

Hat tip, the head of a listserv for scanner listeners in the DC area.

05.17.19 07:00 AM

IF YOU HAD a choice between a better, faster cell phone signal and an accurate weather forecast, which would you pick? That’s the question facing federal officials as they decide whether to auction off more of the wireless spectrum or heed meteorologists who say that such a move could throw US weather forecasting into chaos.

On Capitol Hill Thursday, NOAA’s acting chief, Neil Jacobs, said that interference from 5G wireless phones could reduce the accuracy of forecasts by 30 percent. That's equivalent, he said, to the quality of weather predictions four decades ago. “If you look back in time to see when our forecast scale was roughly 30 percent less than today, it was 1980,” Jacobs told the House Subcommittee on the Environment.

That reduction would give coastal residents two or three fewer days to prepare for a hurricane, and it could lead to incorrect predictions of the storms’ final path to land, Jacobs said. “This is really important,” he told ranking committee member Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma).

In March, the FCC began auctioning off its 24-gigahertz frequency band to wireless carriers, despite the objections of scientists at NOAA, NASA, and the American Meteorological Society. This week, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) wroteto FCC chair Ajit Pai requesting the commission stop companies from using the 24-GHz band until a solution is found, and to delay any more of the auction.

Jordan Gerth, a research meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been studying this issue as part of a group at the American Meteorological Society. He says that while the FCC can switch which regions of the spectrum it allocates to phone companies, forecasters are stuck. That’s because water vapor emits a faint signal in the atmosphere at a frequency (23.8 GHz) that is extremely close to the one sold for next-generation 5G wireless communications (24 GHz). Satellites like NOAA's GOES-R and the European MetOp monitor this frequency to collect data that is fed into prediction models for upcoming storms and weather systems.

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