Cellphone towers beat radar at detecting rain, say researchers

Proving once again that wireless technology isn't all bad, researchers from the University of Tel Aviv have determined that cellphone towers are as good as, if not better than, traditional meteorological techniques at measuring rainfall patterns. The team took data already documented by the carriers about each tower's signal strength over time and compared it to information that had been collected by radar and rain gauges, and found that not only did the towers accurately detect the electromagnetic disturbances inherent to storms, but that the degree of change in signal strength was directly proportional to actual rainfall. While widespread utilization of this data could probably have an immediate effect on forecasting if combined with current methodology, the researchers have an even more ambitious goal of detecting signal variations from the end-user -- that is, on consumers' handsets -- for aggregation into even more precise and localized reports once weather-related changes can be teased out from among the many other signal strength variants.

[Via Slashdot]