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Why could 5G hamper future weather forecasts?

Credit: Pixabay

The development of 5G network could seriously affect weather experts’ ability at predicting weather conditions.  Some fear that this could cause problems for forecasting extreme weather like storms and hurricanes. 

Following 3G and 4G mobile networks which allows general access to the internet, 5G promises speeds that are 20 times faster.  This is a real revolution in terms of technology as it will allow new usages like instantaneous access to the internet, medical advancements and autonomous vehicles.  In general it is believed that this latest network will make our lives easier.  The biggest cities around the world are gradually becoming equipped with the new 5G network and the rest of the work should gain access to this network in the next three to four years.  Although many are very enthusiastic about the potential technological advancements, others are starting to worry, in particular weather experts.

“It could make the difference between life and death”

According to experts this “new generation” network could potentially upset many satellites which allow forecasters to predict the weather.  The orbiting instruments are particularly responsible for precisely monitoring atmospheric changes which then allow researchers to make weather  predictions. By hindering the ability of satellites to track these changes, forecasts may not be as accurate. This could be particularly dangerous when trying to accurately predict extreme weather forecasts like hurricane and violent storms.

“The way in which 5G is introduced could seriously compromise our ability to predict major storms,” said Tony McNally from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. “In the end, it could mean the difference between life and death. We are very concerned about this.”

météo
A hurricane seen from Space.  Weather forecasts allow forecasters to gauge the severity of the weather phenomenon and the anticipate its trajectory. Credits : Pixabay

Frequency problems

The main problem is that the instruments attached to satellites study variables like water vapor, cloud coverage and even ice content.  For example, water vapor emits a frequency of 23.8 Gigahertz (GHz). Experts then rely on this information to determine how an extreme weather event is likely to develop. However some 5G telephone networks can emit at a frequency very similar to the frequency emitted by water vapor.

This data is critical to our ability to forecast the weather,” says Niels Bormann, from the same weather center. It is a unique natural resource. Because of 5G, we will no longer be able to tell the difference, so we should eliminate that data. This will compromise our ability to make accurate predictions.”

Meteorological experts call for a limited use of natural frequencies which are essential for Earth observation from space. Bands used to study rain and snow (36-37 GHz), atmospheric temperatures (50 GHz) and evolution of cloud cover (86-92 GHz) could also be concerned.

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