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Weekly Weather Event -Week of Sept. 2

September 6, 2019

Though widespread use 5G cell networks will not be seen for some time, there are already debates on how this technology will impact the scientific community at large. Certain proposals for 5G networks place the frequency usage near 24 gigahertz (GHz), a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is close to the frequency satellite sensors use to transmit water vapor data (23.8 GHz).

Satellite meteorologists have voiced concerns that 5G networks running at this frequency would cause interference with the data collected, with 5G frequencies bleeding into collected water vapor data. This type of interference could sharply reduce forecast accuracy, especially for large scale storms such as hurricanes, by nearly 40 years.

Remote sensing and satellite meteorology are a backbone of modern forecasting techniques. Satellites can take measurements either actively, by using internal instruments to send out stimuli and recording the results, or passively, measuring external stimuli such as sunlight and microwave radiation with sensors.

Given that all objects emit microwave radiation, sensors can be calibrated to measure specific frequencies and gather data that would otherwise be impossible or extremely impractical. This allows aircraft and satellite instruments to measure everything from cloud composition to ocean currents. When compiled, these measurements can be used to predict the paths of storms, track the movement and development of sea ice, and help provide hurricane warnings days in advance.