Large-scale Wireless Sensor Networks in Harsh Environments

Open Access
Conway, Michael J
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 02, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Sven G Bilen, Thesis Advisor
  • Wireless Sensor Network
  • WSN
  • geoPebble
Originally developed for military applications, wireless sensor networks have become an important research topic and have been adapted for numerous applications. Global warming has also become an important research topic with particular emphasis on the study of ice sheets. This work couples the research interest in wireless sensor networks and the study of ice sheets by developing the geoPebble wireless sensor network. Not only will the geoPebble network provide geoscientists with invaluable knowledge about ice sheets, but it provides a path for the development of large-scale sensor networks. The geoPebble network is targeted for the ice sheets of Antarctica, which present numerous challenges. This work addresses the challenge of making an RF link between each geoPebble and the base station. It is shown that, although snow typically presents a major challenge with RF links, Antarctic snow is unique in that it does not severely attenuate an RF wave. Using this fact, a Snow{Air model is presented to predict the total attenuation an RF wave experiences as it travels from a geoPebble buried in the snow to a nearby access point. Finally, three deployment scenarios are presented: a 200-m square grid, 1000-m square grid, and a 1414-m square grid. It is shown that a link meeting throughput requirements is possible in each of these deployment scenarios.