5G wireless expansion may jeopardize accurate weather forecasts

NASA and Navy concerned interference will result in degraded safety

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist

Water Vapor data in this GOES satellite may not be detected due to interference from adjacent 5G band (24.25 GHz) wireless signals.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Faster more reliable phone connections expected with emerging 5G wireless technology could be a boost for communications but could jeopardize the accuracy of future weather forecasts.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA have conducted studies that show interference will result in a partial-to-complete loss of remotely sensed water-vapor measurements, which are vital parameter incorporated by weather computer forecast models.

Navy and Marine Corps are concerned degraded weather forecasts could cause greater safety risk for flight and navigation operations and reduce battlespace awareness during tactical operations.

Ultra-high radio frequencies used for 5G could could scramble parameters of snow, ice, rain and wave height used in meteorological and oceanographic models.

The accuracy of forecasts could be off by 30% percent according to NOAA’s acting chief, Neil Jacobs, who spoke to members of the House Subcommittee on the Environment.

Jacobs said this data gap would set the quality of weather predictions back to four decades ago.  

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