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Effects of Fire Plumes from Pine Needles on Small-scale Fading in Radiowave Propagation

Vala, M. ; Faria, S. ; Coimbra, P. ; Leonor, N. ; Felício, J. M. ; Fernandes, C. A. ; Salema, C. ; Caldeirinha, R. F. S.

IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation Vol. 71, Nº 4, pp. 3473 - 3484, April, 2023.

ISSN (print): 0018-926X
ISSN (online): 0018-926X

Scimago Journal Ranking: 2,32 (in 2022)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/TAP.2023.3238130

In this paper, radiowave fading caused by fire plumes due to the burning of heaps of pine needles is studied. Detailed characterization of the fire impact in terms of excess loss due to the yielded plumes at UHF frequencies, mainly in L-band, when considering two different ignition sources, is also presented. The implemented small-scale fire scenario is composed of a 1m x 1m metallic grid covered with a 0.6 kg pine needle fuel bed that was placed right above a circular and linear gas burners to mimic a underbrush scenario. The propagation phenomena was evaluated through specific wideband measurements as the fire developed, while intersecting the radio path at antennas’ boresight. Results demonstrate changes in the propagation medium that is strongly influenced by the plume which ultimately becomes (partly) ionized. Deep fades of up to 12 dB below median levels at specific frequencies during a short period of time, when the fire is more intense, were measured. We also obtained an overall median excess loss due to fire of up to 2 dB in the frequency range from 0.6 to 2 GHz, in a relatively short path (below 1 meter). A time domain analysis allowed to expand on these results yielding fading values of the direct component of more than 3 dB in the presence of fire. Extending the findings presented in this paper to a real-scale fire scenario, in which median excess loss of more than 20 dB and deeper nulls are ought to be expected, sets the rationale and motivation to pursue future work on the topic, with practical relevance to future mission-critical communication networks planning, such as, but not limited to, LTE Public-Safety and specific 5G use cases.