Scientific Publication: Opportunistic Rain Rate Estimation from Measurements of Satellite Downlink Attenuation: A Survey

The University of Pisa published a survey paper on technologies for rain sensing, which is an outcome of WP4 and WP5 preliminary activities about sensor deployment for weather and environmental data acquisition.

The paper was published on 31st August 2021 in the international journal Sensors and is available in open access.


Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in techniques and systems for rainfall surveillance on regional scale, with increasingly stringent requirements in terms of the following: (i) accuracy of rainfall rate measurements, (ii) adequate density of sensors over the territory, (iii) spacetime continuity and completeness of data and (iv) capability to elaborate rainfall maps in near real time. The devices deployed to monitor the precipitation fields are traditionally networks of rain gauges distributed throughout the territory, along with weather radars and satellite remote sensors operating in the optical or infrared band, none of which, however, are suitable for full compliance to all of the requirements cited above. More recently, a different approach to rain rate estimation techniques has been proposed and investigated, based on the measurement of the attenuation induced by rain on signals of pre-existing radio networks either in terrestrial links, e.g., the backhaul
connections in cellular networks, or in satellite-to-earth links and, among the latter, notably those between geostationary broadcast satellites and domestic subscriber terminals in the Ku and Ka bands. Knowledge of the above rain-induced attenuation permits the retrieval of the corresponding rain intensity provided that a number of meteorological and geometric parameters are known and ultimately permits estimating the rain rate locally at the receiver site. In this survey paper, we specifically focus on such a type of “opportunistic” systems for rain field monitoring, which appear very promising in view of the wide diffusion over the territory of low-cost domestic terminals for the reception of satellite signals, prospectively allowing for a considerable geographical capillarity in the distribution of sensors, at least in more densely populated areas. The purpose of the paper is to present a broad albeit synthetic overview of the numerous issues inherent in the above rain monitoring approach, along with a number of solutions and algorithms proposed in the literature in recent years, and ultimately to provide an exhaustive account of the current state of the art. Initially, the main relevant aspects of the satellite link are reviewed, including those related to satellite dynamics, frequency bands, signal formats, propagation channel and radio link geometry, all of which have a role in rainfall rate estimation algorithms. We discuss the impact of all these factors on rain estimation accuracy while also highlighting the substantial differences inherent in this approach in comparison with traditional rain monitoring techniques. We also review the basic formulas relating rain rate intensity to a variation of the received signal level or of the signal-to-noise ratio. Furthermore, we present a comprehensive literature survey of the main research issues for the aforementioned scenario and provide a brief outline of the algorithms proposed for their solution, highlighting their points of strength and weakness. The paper includes an extensive list of bibliographic references from which the material presented herein was taken.


Title: Opportunistic Rain Rate Estimation from Measurements of Satellite Downlink Attenuation: A Survey

Authors: Filippo Giannetti and Ruggero Reggiannini

Cite as: Giannetti, F.; Reggiannini, R. Opportunistic Rain Rate Estimation from Measurements of Satellite Downlink Attenuation: A Survey. Sensors 2021, 21, 5872.