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3D Printing of coastal protection Reefs

The Albanian coastline has been declining in recent years due to coastal erosion and uncontrolled...

NEFOCAST

In spite of the variety of existing methods to measure precipitation, the retrieval of rainfall fields is still a matter of research, because of the high number of applications in different fields critically dependent on rainfall data and thus demanding for upgraded precisions in quantity estimation, spatial distribution and resolution, as well as for homogeneous retrieval over large domains. Telecommunication technologies can bring relevant information on rainfall rate, through the measurement of the attenuation caused by raindrops on broadcast satellite signals, albeit not specifically developed for this.

Developed by MBI Srl

NEFOCAST is a FAR-FAS research project funded by the Tuscany Region Government (Italy) that aims at setting up, and demonstrating through field experiments, the concept of a system able to provide precipitation maps in realtime based on the attenuation measurements collected by a dense population of interactive satellite terminals (called SmartLNB, smart Low-Noise Block converter) commercially used as bidirectional modems. The system does not require the set-up of specific precipitation measuring instruments, but uses telecommunication links.

TRL6. Prototype system verified
Technology demonstrated in relevant environment. Representative model or prototype system, which is well beyond that of TRL 5, is tested in a relevant environment. Represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in a simulated operational environment. The NEFOCAST system has been initially tested in lab and first assumptions on the algorithms implemented in the service centre have been defined. In 2018 an experimental network of SmartLNBs has been deployed in Florence and other areas of Tuscany and analysed through a co-located raingauge network and a doppler polarimetric X-band radar for cal/val objectives. Initlal alghoritms have been revised and improved, while validation of the models and of the solution is in progress.

See more information about this level and the TRL and SRL levels.

The main components of the system have been tested separately, and an initial integration exercise has been conducted.

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Collaborators

How does it work?

The NEFOCAST project aims at setting up and validating a system able to provide precipitation maps in real-time based on the attenuation measurements collected by a dense population of interactive satellite terminals(called SmartLNBs), designed to be used as bidirectional modems for commercial interactive TV applications. The system does not require the deployment of specific precipitation measuring devices. The attractiveness of this system is due to the possibility of using a huge amount of attenuation measurements from a widespread network of low cost domestic terminals, especially in urban areas, where a very high density of measurements can be achieved.

Limitations/conditions under which this innovation does not work or is less effective

Even in the most favorable clear-sky conditions, the received signal from a GEO satellite is affected by amplitude fluctuations. First, the rapid fluctuations in signal amplitude are caused by small-scale irregularities in the tropospheric refractive index (scintillation fading). These fluctuations are thus much faster than the time dynamics of the rain events and as such can be safely smoothed out by means of a proper filter. Furthermore, a GEO satellite is subject to many sources of orbit perturbations. In particular, the gravitational effects of the moon and the sun cause a progression of the orbit inclination which is periodically counteracted by means correction manoeuvers. The value of the receiving antenna gain towards the apparent position of the satellite in the sky is thus continuously changing and this causes 24 h-periodic fluctuations. Around equinoxes, the GEO Earth receiving stations are “blinded” by the Sun’s apparent passage behind the satellite. This situation lasts a few minutes per day, during which the Sun interferes with the satellite’s downlink signal. NEFOCAST adopts some countermeasures to identify and mitigate these effects.

Added value
The technologies developed within the project will be used to obtain very detailed estimates of precipitation. The NEFOCAST Service Center is able to provide real time precipitation data for nowcasting applications, since it is primarily thought as a tool for monitoring and detect precipitating events, even severe. In particular it will be possible to obtain information with a temporal resolution much higher than what provided by other monitoring systems. These results will be valuable and significant for the prevention of natural disasters and for the continuous monitoring of basins and their precipitation status, as well as for other applications in the productive and civil fields. Compared to existing market solutions, the main advantages of the NEFOCAST solution are:

  • higher accuracy, frequency and detail for the provided information, especially when combined with other forecast systems;
  • availability of all information in one single data center;
  • possibility to serve a great number of professional users using the same technological platform.

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