Johns Hopkins Study Reveals Potential Long-term Impact of Climate Change on Radars

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A study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory found negative as well as positive long-term effects of climate change on communication systems such as radars.

The results were published Wednesday and presented at the annual meeting of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Radio Science.

“Will climate change alter the environment enough to impact the design of sensor systems? Because if it does — even a little bit — that would be a surprise for designers and engineers who aren’t used to thinking about the environment as an evolving design factor,” said Jonathan Gehman, APL applied physicist and one of the scientists involved in the study.

He said that S-band radars will have better longer-range advantage, while X-band and other higher frequency remote sensing systems will degrade over the next 50 years. He attributed the discrepancy to increased moisture in the atmosphere, which will impede the resolution and bandwidth capability of X-bands.

They obtained data collected via the World Climate Research Programme’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, which examined factors considered in impact sensor design. These include moisture conditions and rising sea surface temperatures, which influence the effectiveness of radio frequency and infrared propagation.

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