Vol. 67

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Ray Tracing Radio Waves in Wildfire Environments

By Kgakgamatso Mphale and Mal Heron
Progress In Electromagnetics Research, Vol. 67, 153-172, 2007


Wildfires are uncontrolled exothermic oxidation of vegetation. Flame combustion temperatures could be in excess of 1600 K. Under the high temperature environment, plants' organic structure crumbles to release omnipresent alkali nutrients into the combustion zone. The alkali based compounds thermally decomposed to constituent atoms which ultimately ionised to give ions and electrons. The presence of electrons in the flame lowers its refractive index, thereby creating a medium of spatially varying refractive index. In the medium, incident radio waves change speed and are consequently deflected from their original path. The refraction has an effect of decreasing signal intensity at a targeted receiver which is at the same height as a collimated beam transmitter which is at a considerable distance away from the former. A numerical experiment was set to investigate the sub refractive behaviour of a very high intensity eucalyptus wildfire (90 MWm−1) plume using two dimensional (2D) ray tracing scheme. The scheme traces radio rays as they traverse the plume. The ratio of number rays in a collimated beam reaching the targeted receiver to number of rays leaving the transmitter is used to calculate signal intensity loss in decibels (dB) at the receiver. Assuming an average natural plant alkali (potassium) content of 0.5%, attenuation (dB) was observed to be factor of both propagation frequency and temperature at the seat of the fire plume; and only of temperature at cooler parts of the plume. The 2D ray tracing scheme predicted a maximum attenuations of 14.84 and 5.47 dB for 3000 and 150 MHz respectively at 0.8 m above canopy-flame interface over propagation path of 48.25 m. An attenuation of 0.85 dB was predicted for frequencies from 150-3000 MHz over the same propagation distance at plume height of 52.8 m above ground.


 (See works that cites this article)
Kgakgamatso Mphale and Mal Heron, "Ray Tracing Radio Waves in Wildfire Environments," Progress In Electromagnetics Research, Vol. 67, 153-172, 2007.


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