RF Path and Absorption Loss Estimation for Underwater Wireless Sensor Networks in Different Water Environments

Umair Mujtaba Qureshi*, Faisal Karim Shaikh, Zuneera Aziz, Syed M. Zafi S. Shah, Adil A. Sheikh, Emad Felemban, Saad Bin Qaisar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Underwater Wireless Sensor Network (UWSN) communication at high frequencies is extremely challenging. The intricacies presented by the underwater environment are far more compared to the terrestrial environment. The prime reason for such intricacies are the physical characteristics of the underwater environment that have a big impact on electromagnetic (EM) signals. Acoustics signals are by far the most preferred choice for underwater wireless communication. Because high frequency signals have the luxury of large bandwidth (BW) at shorter distances, high frequency EM signals cannot penetrate and propagate deep in underwater environments. The EM properties of water tend to resist their propagation and cause severe attenuation. Accordingly, there are two questions that need to be addressed for underwater environment, first what happens when high frequency EM signals operating at 2.4 GHz are used for communication, and second which factors affect the most to high frequency EM signals. To answer these questions, we present real-time experiments conducted at 2.4 GHz in terrestrial and underwater (fresh water) environments. The obtained results helped in studying the physical characteristics (i.e., EM properties, propagation and absorption loss) of underwater environments. It is observed that high frequency EM signals can propagate in fresh water at a shallow depth only and can be considered for a specific class of applications such as water sports. Furthermore, path loss, velocity of propagation, absorption loss and the rate of signal loss in different underwater environments are also calculated and presented in order to understand why EM signals cannot propagate in sea water and oceanic water environments. An optimal solk6ution for underwater communication in terms of coverage distance, bandwidth and nature of communication is presented, along with possible underwater applications of UWSNs at 2.4 GHz.
Original languageEnglish
Article number890
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

User-Defined Keywords

  • UWSNs
  • sensors
  • underwater
  • water conductivity
  • water permeability
  • water permittivity
  • freshwater
  • seawater


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