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Cellphones can Predict Floods


As outrageous as the above headline sounds, it seems to be true. At least according to the research scientists at Tel Aviv University who published their findings in an issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal. “By monitoring the specific and fluctuating atmospheric moisture around cell phone towers throughout America, we can cheaply, effectively and reliably provide a more accurate ‘critical moisture distribution’ level for fine-tuning model predictions of big floods,” says Prof. Pinhas Alpert, a geophysicist and head of Tel Aviv University’s Porter School for Environmental Education.

That means that they can predict the intensity of the flood too. The premise is based on the fact that signal strength diminishes due to moisture present in the atmosphere. Combining this with rainfall distribution data, scientists were able to predict flash floods that happen frequently in the Judean Desert in Israel. With this new piece of information provided by cell phone towers, the world’s weather bureaus that are usually under a lot of flack for poor predictive ability, will have an edge. Since cell phone towers are available in plenty all over most regions, implementing this system should also be quite simple. Considering the amount of mayhem caused by floods in Mumbai, the city should be the first candidate for installing such a system.

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