TAU professor wins top electrical engineering prize for weather monitoring work

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Tel Aviv University Faculty of Engineering Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron. (courtesy TAU)
Tel Aviv University Faculty of Engineering Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron. (courtesy TAU)

Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron of Tel Aviv University has been awarded the top prize in electrical engineering for her “groundbreaking technology [that] uses existing wireless communication to monitor meteorological phenomena,” the university announces.

The New Jersey-based Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers awards the Medal for Environmental and Safety Technologies.

Messer-Yaron’s research combines issues of climate change and big data processing by harnessing signals from cellphone networks to monitor weather conditions and rainfall, eliminating the necessity to install dedicated radars and weather stations.

“The technology we developed enables processing and analyzing the big data collected by these existing communication networks for other purposes. Specifically, it uses changes in signal intensity to monitor meteorological phenomena in general and precipitation in particular. This is a breakthrough in monitoring climate change and the ways to address it,” Messer-Yaron explains in the announcement, adding that she was “thrilled” to receive the award.

Messer-Yaron, who has been on the TAU Faculty of Engineering since 1986, first presented her article in a paper in the journal Science, followed by a 2009 study that showed her technique could predict flash floods, opening the gates for further research in the new field of “opportunistic environmental sensing.” She has served as chief scientist at the Science Ministry and as president of the Open University.

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