The use of existing measurements from wireless communication or navigation systems for opportunistic sensing of the environment is an emerging field, which has a great potential. In particular, measurements of the attenuation of the signals in wireless backhaul cellular communication networks, first introduced by us on 2006, have been proven to be a valuable, accessible resource of relevant data.

About 5M commercial microwave links from cellular communication backhaul networks, existing almost anywhere on earth, provide a valuable “opportunistic” source of high-resolution space–time rainfall information, complementing traditional in situ local measurement devices (rain gauges, disdrometers) and remote sensors (weather radars, satellites). However, further advancement toward implementation and commercial use is heavily dependent on multidisciplinary collaborations: communication and network engineers are needed to enable access to the existing measurements; signal processing experts can utilize the different data for improving the accuracy and the tempo-spatial resolution of the estimates; atmospheric scientists are responsible for the physical modeling; hydrologists, meteorologists and others can contribute to the end uses; economists can indicate the potential benefits

In this talk I will review the topic and the open challenges and I will present research results, demonstrating how most advanced tools of statistical signal processing are applied, taking advantage on the amount and the diversity of the available measurements for optimally detecting, estimating and classifying precipitation, as well as other-than- rain phenomena.


HAGIT MESSER, Fellow of the IEEE, has joined the faculty of engineering at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in 1986, after post-doctorate at Yale University, where she is a professor of Electrical Engineering, and the Kranzberg Chair in Signal Processing.

On 2000 - 2003 she was on leave from TAU, serving as the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Science, ISRAEL. After returning to TAU she was the head of the Porter school of environmental studies (2004-6), and the Vice President for Research and Development 2006-8.  On October 2008 she has started a 5 years term as the President of the Open University in Israel. She has returned to TAU on October 2013, serving also as the Vice-Chair of the council for Higher Education (CHE), ISRAEL till January 2016. Hagit Messer is also a co-founder of ClimaCell, a Massachusetts-based weather company that utilizes wireless communication networks as weather sensors.