Their model, which analyzes cell phone signals, adds a critical component to weather forecasting never before available. Professor Pinhas Alpert, a geophysicist and head of Tel Aviv University's Porter School for Environmental Education explains: "By monitoring the specific and fluctuating atmospheric moisture around cell phone towers throughout America, we can effectively and reliably provide a more accurate 'critical moisture distribution' level". He corroborates: "This helps for fine-tuning model predictions of big floods," said.
The researcher also feels that the radio waves emitted from the towers are diminished by moisture in the air, a factor that can be used to improve model warnings on flood levels. In addition, the researchers measured the rainfall distributions,weather and were able to accurately estimate the size of impending floods before they struck.
This was demonstrated in post-analysis of two case-studies of floods in the Judean Desert in Israel, where cell phone towers and flash floods are abundant. Using real data measurements collected from the towers, the researchers demonstrated how microwave links in a cellular network correlated with surface station humidity measurements.
The data provided by cell phone towers is the missing link weather forecasters need to improve the accuracy of flood forecasting. "Our method provides reliable measurement of moisture fields near the flood zone for the first time," said Professor Alpert. "This new tool can add to the bigger picture of understanding climate change patterns in general ," he added.
Professor Alpert feels that an accurate measurements for floods had been missing in all these years'. He concludes: "Accurate predictions of flooding were difficult before because there haven't been enough reliable measurements of moisture fields in remote locations." He explains: "Using the signals collected from cell phone towers as they communicate with base stations and our handsets, weather forecasters will now have a crucial missing piece of information for flood prediction that they never had before."