A Study and Modelling of the Propagation Effects of Vegetation on Radio Waves at Centimetre-Wavelength Frequencies

  • Richard Stephens

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    With the increase in and more diverse applications of microwave radio communications, the probability of a signal propagating through a medium of vegetation is increased. As a direct result of this demand for microwave communication systems, knowledge is required of the effects of vegetation media on the propagating microwave signal. This enables radio system planners to predict the signal loss more accurately, necessitating a detailed study of the propagation effects of vegetation.

    A vegetation depth attenuation model has been developed based on the International Telecommunications Union-Radio Sector model and validated against measurements conducted at two microwave frequencies of 11.2 GHz and 20 GHz. The measurements were conducted on a number of sites of differing
    geometries at different times of the year to obtain the two extreme states of foliage, in- and out-of-leaf. The trees found at the sites were of a number of indigenous species. A variety of species and environments were employed for the outdoor measurements as it was felt that any variation in the signal, occurring as a direct result of the species, climate, environment etc., would be reduced.

    A further study has been conducted in an anechoic chamber, the purpose being to investigate the depolarising effect of vegetation, to characterise and to ascertain how and to what extent the polarisation of the incident signal is changed as it passes through the vegetation without the effects of climate, location and environment affecting the resultant signal.

    To enable larger quantities of data to be obtained, collated and subsequently analysed and also to remove any scope for error during the collection of results, two data acquisition programs were written for the two main environments in which the measurements were to be undertaken, that is to say, outdoor and indoor (anechoic chamber) environments.

    In seeking to provide a model for the prediction of attenuation a radio wave will suffer as it is propagated through a body of vegetation, several models have been examined in turn and their relative merits discussed together with their applicability to the study. After examining the possible models available, the
    thesis provides a model which enables the prediction of additional attenuation a radiowave signal will suffer as a function of path length (depth) of the vegetation medium and frequency. The model can be recommended for use in the 10-30 GHz band.

    The study on the depolarisation of signals by vegetation has shown that the components of a vegetation medium e.g. tree trunks, branches and leaves, can cause considerable changes in the polarisation of the incident signal as it propagates through a volume of vegetation. The work presented in this thesis
    contains new measured results of the polarisation state of the radio wave as it emerges from a vegetation specimen. These results obtained in an anechoic chamber under controlled conditions have demonstrated that additional effects,
    other than attenuation by absorption and scatter need to be considered in order to characterise and subsequently model the overall effect of vegetation in the radio path of propagating signals.
    Date of Award1998
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAkram Hammoudeh (Supervisor)


    • Microwave radio communications
    • vegetation media
    • propagating microwave signal
    • signal loss
    • Trees
    • Foliage

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