Microwave backhaul links from cellular communication networks provide a valuable “opportunistic” source of high-resolution space–time rainfall information, comple-menting traditional in situ measurement devices (rain gauges, disdrometers) and remote sensors (weather radars, satellites). Over the past decade, a growing community of researchers has, in close collaboration with cellular communication compa-nies, developed retrieval algorithms to convert the raw microwave link signals, stored operationally by their network management systems, to hydrometeorologically useful rainfall estimates. Operational meteorological and hydrological services as well as private consulting firms are showing an increased interest in using this complemen-tary source of rainfall information to improve the products and services they provide to end users from different sectors, from water management and weather prediction to agriculture and traffic control. The greatest potential of these opportunistic environmental sensors lies in those geographical areas over the land surface of the Earth where the densities of traditional rainfall measurement devices are low: mountainous and urban areas and the developing world. This article provides a nonexpert summary of the history, theory, challenges, and opportunities toward continental-scale rainfall monitoring using microwave links from cellular communication networks. This article is categorized under: Science of Water > Methods Science of Water > Hydrological Processes.
- cellular communication networks
- microwave links
- opportunistic sensing
- remote sensing