Two and a half years of country-wide rainfall maps using radio links from commercial cellular telecommunication networks

A. Overeem*, H. Leijnse, R. Uijlenhoet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Although rainfall estimation employing microwave links from cellular telecommunication networks is recognized as a new promising measurement technique, its potential for long-term large-scale operational rainfall monitoring remains to be demonstrated. This study contributes to this endeavor by deriving a continuous series of rainfall maps from a large 2.5 year microwave link data set of, on average, 3383 links (2044 link paths) covering Netherlands (∼3.5 × 104 km2), a midlatitude country (∼5°E, ∼52°N) with a temperate climate. Maps are extensively verified against an independent gauge-adjusted radar rainfall data set for different temporal (15 min, 1 h, 1 day, 1 month) and spatial (0.9, 74 km2) scales. The usefulness of different steps in the rainfall retrieval algorithm, i.e., a wet-dry classification method and a filter to remove outliers, is systematically assessed. A novel dew filter is developed to correct for dew-induced wet antenna attenuation, which, although a relative underestimation of 6% to 9% is found, generally yields good results. The microwave link rainfall estimation technique performs well for the summer months (June, July, August), even outperforming interpolation of automatic rain gauge data (with a density of ∼1 gauge per 1000 km2), but large deviations are found for the winter months (December, January, February). These deviations are generally expected to be related to frozen or melting precipitation. Hence, our results show the potential of commercial microwave links for long-term large-scale operational rainfall monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8039-8065
Number of pages27
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • measurement
  • microwave links
  • precipitation
  • remote sensing


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