The effects of atmospheric refractivity in near-earth UHF channels

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Bhattacharjea, Rajib
Durgin, Gregory D.
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The design of emergent wireless sensor networks operating near the ground requires channel models that account for previously unconsidered propagation phenomena. Most models used for link planning and radio design of the last century were designed for use in situations where the transmitters were at least tens of meters above the earth surface. However, near the earth surface, the specifics of the ground composition and atmospheric effects have been postulated to play a significant role. This dissertation describes the first set of investigations in this emergent environment. A novel computational electromagnetics model is presented that can calculate electromagnetic fields of a dipole embedded in planar-stratified propagation medium that represents the ground and near-surface atmosphere. It is the first available electromagnetic model to efficiently combine a spectral-domain solution in arbitrary multilayers of lossy-dielectric media with high-order quadrature routines to synthesize the fields of an impressed dipole. For the first time, high-order asymptotic quadrature is used to efficiently obtain solutions at arbitrary ranges from the dipole source. A measurements-based model of the near-ground atmosphere is derived, and results of modeling the atmosphere are used to predict the performance of an ultra-high-frequency radio system operating near the ground surface. Finally, a study is conducted to determine the effects of varying key parameters in the near ground channel, including atmospheric conditions, ground conditions, and frequency. The primary result is that ultra-high-frequency near-earth narrowband channels are largely insensitive to large-scale refractive effects that occur naturally on Earth; however, as the transmitter frequency increases into the super-high-frequency and millimeter wave regimes, refractive effects have significant effects on the radio propagation environment.
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