A group of researchers in Japan says it has developed a system aimed at making early forecasts of localized torrential rains.
The group is led by Seiji Kawamura, chief researcher at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, located in Koganei, Tokyo.
The system relies on terrestrial waves used to broadcast digital radio. When the amount of vapor in the atmosphere increases to form rain clouds, it causes a delay in transmission. The system makes estimates based on the delay.
The group carried out experiments using an antenna on the roof of the institute. It recorded transmission delays with a precision of one-trillionth of a second.
It says the estimated changes in vapor amounts were almost the same as those calculated by the method of observing temperature, atmospheric pressure and humidity at the same site. The group says the system is simpler and cheaper than the observation method and capable of covering wider areas.
Kawamura says the technology can be used anywhere and at lower costs. He said localized torrential rains can cause tremendous damage in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes, and that his group hopes to limit the effects of disaster through early forecasting.
The group aims to put the system into practical use by 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic Games.
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