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Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS Int.

Conference on TELECOMMUNICATIONS and INFORMATICS, Dallas, Texas, USA, March 22-24, 2007 105

An Investigation of Wave Propagation over Irregular Terrain and

Urban Streets using Finite Elements
Middlesex University Middlesex University Middlesex University
School of Computing Science School of Computing Science School of Computing Science
London, NW4 4BT London, NW4 4BT London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom United Kingdom United Kingdom

Abstract: A method to model electromagnetic wave propagation in troposphere on irregular terrain in the presence
of height dependant refractivity is presented using finite element analysis. In this work, the helmholtz equation
applied on radiowave propagation properly manipulated and simplified using pade approximation is solved using
finite element method. Paraxial form of helmholtz equation is also called wide angle formulation of parabolic
equation (WPEM) and is used because of its accuracy and behavior on large propagation angles. By using this
method, horizontal and vertical tropospheric characteristics are assigned to every element, and different refractivity
and terrain profiles can be entered at different stages. We also consider wave propagation on an urban street to
demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

KeyWords: Troposphere, finite element method, parabolic equation method.

1 Introduction ing profiles are involved.

The solution of electromagnetic propagation
Radio coverage in the troposphere and urban areas has problems in the presence of an irregular terrain is
been a challenging problem for many years [1]. Re- a complicated matter. Three-dimensional variations
searchers in wave propagation area have been search- in refraction and terrain make the full vector prob-
ing for efficient mathematical models for describing lem extremely difficult to solve in a reasonable time.
the problem of electromagnetic wave propagation in Many existing prediction models are based on simpli-
troposphere. Numerous methods are available for pre- fied Deygout solution for multiple knife-edge diffrac-
dicting electromagnetic wave propagation in the at- tion [7]. An important class of propagation models
mosphere [2]. However, the presence of vertical re- over irregular terrain is based on integral equation for-
fractivity stratification in the atmosphere complicates mulation which in general can be simplified by using
the application of some methods. To model refractiv- paraxial approximation [8]. If one chooses to simplify
ity variations in the horizontal as well as vertical di- the problem by assuming symmetry in one or more of
rection, geometric optics, coupled-mode analysis, or the coordinate directions, the vector problem can be
hybrid methods have been employed [3]. decoupled into scalar problems.However the solution
In the past, emphasis was given to geometrical of two dimensional scalar problem is still difficult for
optics (GO) techniques and modal analysis. GO pro- realistic environments. Some approximations and nu-
vide a general geometrical description of ray fami- merical schemes for the solution are used to reduce
lies, propagating through the atmosphere. Ray trac- the solution of the full two-way equation to one-way
ing methods present many disadvantages; for exam- equation. Benefits of one-way propagation are the
ple the radiowave frequency is not accounted for and simple numerical implementation of range dependen-
it is not always clear whether the ray is trapped by the cies in the medium and the avoidance of prohibitive
specific duct structure [4]. An alternative approach numerical aspects of solving elliptic equations associ-
for tropospheric propagation modelling was devel- ated with implementing two range-dependant bound-
oped by Baumgartner [5] and later extended [6], nor- ary conditions.
mally known as Waveguide Model or Coupled Mode One of the most reliable and widely used tech-
Technique. The main disadvantage of coupled mode nique in literature is parabolic equation (PE) method,
technique lie in the complexity of the root finding initially developed for the study of underwater acous-
algorithms and large computational demands, espe- tic problems and later on extended to tropospheric
cially when higher frequencies and complicated duct-
Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS Int. Conference on TELECOMMUNICATIONS and INFORMATICS, Dallas, Texas, USA, March 22-24, 2007 106

propagation ones [9]. The PE is based on the solution polarization, n(x, z) is the refractive index of tropo-
of the two dimensional differential parabolic equa- sphere, x is the propagation direction and z is the
tion, fitted by homogenous or inhomogeneous refrac- transverse direction. Equation (1) is also called wide
tive profiles. Models based on the parabolic approx- angel representation of parabolic equation method.
imation of the wave equation have been used exten- In long-distance propagation scenarios the effect of
sively for modelling refractive effects on tropospheric earths curvature must be considered. In earth flat-
propagation [10, 11], in last decade. The biggest ad- tening transformation refractive index is replaced with
vantage to using the PE method is that it gives a full- modified refractive index m(x, z) [2]:
wave solution for the field in the presence of range-
dependent environments. Solution of PE in complex z
m(x, z) = n(x, z) 1 + (2)
environments require some numerical method like fi- R
nite element method. where R is the radius of earth. After substituting equa-
In this work wide angle parabolic equation is used tion (2) in (1), it becomes,
to model radio wave propagation over irregular terrain
in troposphere and on urban streets using finite ele- 2 u(x, z) u(x, z) 2 u(x, z)
ment method (FEM). Parabolic equation in wide an- + j2k 0 + +
x z 2
gle formulation is used to make sure that every single (3)
ray should be accounted in the solution. The main ad- k02 n2 (x, z) 1 + u(x, z) = 0
vantage of using WPEM over irregular terrain is that it
combines the effects of both terrain diffraction and at- Wave propagation model based on WPEM as defined
mospheric refraction while remaining straightforward in equation (3) is subject to terrain boundary condi-
to implement [12]. The FEM has been applied previ- tion, which represents the relationship that must hold
ously to model wave propagation over smooth ground between the field u(x, z) and terrain. Note from equa-
[13]. In the present work, we extend this approach tion (3) that the earth curvature enters only through the
to the solution of wide angle parabolic equation in 2z
R term; if this term is ignored, the equation describes
the presence of irregular terrain and on urban streets. propagation over a flat earth.
In this paper, helmholtz equation is properly manipu-
lated and simplified using pade approximations [14],
the solution of which is achieved by using finite ele- 2.1 Boundary and Initial Conditions
ment method. Vertical tropospheric profile character- In two dimensional wave propagation problem, there
istics are assigned to every mesh element, while solu- are two boundaries, one at the starting height, z =
tion advances in small variable range steps, each ex- zmin which in fact is the earth surface at some height
cited by solution of the previous step. depending on terrain profile, and at the maximum al-
The remainder of the paper is organized as fol- titude considered, z = zmax . An impedance type
lows. In section 2, wave propagation modelling us- boundary condition can be used at lower heights to
ing paraxial approximation of wave equation is de- account for the finite conductivity and permittivity of
scribed along with boundary conditions and initial the surface of the earth. The entrance boundary con-
field. Section 3 describes finite element formulation ditions are expressed by the equation [9]:
of the problem. Results and discussions are given in
section 4 and section 5 concludes the paper. u(x, z)
+ jk0 qu(x, z) =0 (4)
z z=zmax

2 Wave propagation modelling by where,

paraxial form of helmholtz equa- jk0
q = qv = (5)
tion r j60
The paraxial form of Helmholtz equation is: q = qh = jk0 r j60 (6)

for vertical and polarization respectively. r is the

2 u(x, z) u(x, z) 2 u(x, z) complex relative permittivity and is the conductivity
+ j2k 0 +
x2 x z
2 (1) of ground whereas is the wavelength of radio waves
2 2
+ k0 n (x, z) 1 u(x, z) = 0 in meters.
When numerical propagation simulations are per-
where k0 is the free space wave number, u(x, z) is formed, infinite propagation domains cannot be re-
the unknown electric or magnetic field depending on alized and the size of the propagation domain must
Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS Int. Conference on TELECOMMUNICATIONS and INFORMATICS, Dallas, Texas, USA, March 22-24, 2007 107

be truncated. This is accomplished numerically by Using Pade approximation [14],

implementing absorbing boundary conditions or Per-
fectly Matched Layer (PML) on the upper boundary [K] k02 [M ] (14)
at z = zmax . x j2k0
For initial field a normalised gaussian antenna
Substituting equation (14) in (13) and after simplifica-
pattern is used:
tion it gives,
u(0, z) = [A(z H0 ) A(z + H0 )] (7) [K] k02 [M ] {u}
j2k0 [M ]
where H0 represents the antenna height and bar de- 4k02 x (15)
notes complex conjugate. The Fourier transform of
= [K] k0 [M ] {u}
A(z) is given as,
2 w 2 /4 Define,
a() = e (8)
[K] k02 [M ]
[M ] = [M ]
where w is defined as, 4k02
equation (15) will becomes,
2 ln 2
w= (9)
k0 sin bw {u}
2 j2k0 [M ] = [K]{u} k02 [M ]{u} (16)
where sin 2 is the sine of 3dB beamwidth.
So at range step x + x 2 equation (16) can be written
3 Finite element formulation prob-
{u} x
lem j2k0 [M ] x+ x = [K] k02 [M ] {u}x+ 2
x 2

In this section finite element formulation of the model (17)

is developed. Apply the finite element method over Using crank nicolson approximation scheme,
the domain zmin z zmax , choose an interpola- {u}x+x {u}x
tion function and than by using weak formulation of j2k0 [M ]
Galerkin method, matrix equation for the system can x (18)
h {u}x+x + {u}x i
be defined as, = [K] k02 [M ]
2 {u} {u}
[M ] + j2k0 [M ] + [K]{u} yields final propagation algorithm as,
x2 x (10)
n o
k02 [M ]{u} = {0} j4k0 [M ] x [K] k02 [M ] {u}x+x
n o (19)
where matrices [M ] and [K] are defined as,
= j4k0 [M ] + x [K] k02 [M ] {u}x
[M ] = {N }T {N } dz (11)
e z 4 Results and Discussions
and, In this section, results for wave propagation in tropo-
sphere, over irregular terrain and urban streets will be
XZ 2z XZ presented. Coverage diagrams at different frequen-
[K] = k02 n2 + dz {N }T
e z R e z cies and under different environment conditions will
XZ be presented. Initially wave propagation in tropo-
{N } dz {N }T {N } dz (12) sphere over smooth terrain is described along with
e z some ducting conditions and than results of propa-
gation over irregular terrain will be shown. Accurate
and {N } is the shape function matrix, {N } = {N }
z , modelling of radio waves over irregular terrain and es-
superscript T denotes transpose function and {0} is pecially in urban environment is crucial for the plan-
the zero matrix. Now, rewrite equation (10) as, ning of cellular communications in cities.
To demonstrate the efficacy of the present ap-
{u} [K] k02 [M ] proach a number of simulations were carried out with
j2k0 [M ] = 1
{u} (13)
x 1 + j2k x various frequencies and media profiles. In all of the
Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS Int. Conference on TELECOMMUNICATIONS and INFORMATICS, Dallas, Texas, USA, March 22-24, 2007 108

simulations the following assumptions were made un- data where refractivity N is related with refractive in-
til stated otherwise. A transmitting antenna of height dex n as N = (n 1) 106 [2]. In cases where hori-
H0 = 150m above sea level with a 3dB-beam width zontally inhomogeneous conditions needs to be mod-
bw = 10 and vertical polarization of the propagating elled, different refractivity profiles can be entered at
wave is assume. Boundary conditions and initial field several ranges, and program can perform linear inter-
generation is described in section ?? and ??. Simu- polation in range and height for use at intermediate
lation parameters use in this paper are summarized in calculation position.
table 1. Modelling ground wave propagation for upward
propagated waves is a challenging signal processing
Parameter Value(s) task. As we discussed earlier in section ?? the upper
Tx Antenna Height 150m boundary should be truncated for proper termination
Tx Antenna Gain 43.5dB of grid or domain. This can be accomplished numeri-
Rx Antenna Height 150m cally by implementing an absorbing boundary condi-
Antenna 3dB bandwidth 10 tion on the upper boundary or using perfectly matched
layer (PML) as described in section ??. Effective ab-
Ground Conductivity 0.01mho/m
sorption within PML block depends on number of
Ground Permittivity 15 PML layers and artificial PML medium parameters.
PML zone 300m Figure 1 and 2 presents the coverage diagram of trans-
Tropospheric Duct Height 300 mitting antenna at 100MHz for standard atmospheric
Antenna Polarization HPOL or VPOL conditions without and with PML. As can be seen
Frequency of Waves 100MHz, 1GHz from figure 1 without the implementation of PML the
waves get reflected from the upper boundary. In fig-
Table 1: Simulation Parameters used for wave propa- ure 2 when a perfectly matched layer (PML) boundary
gation in troposphere is implemented these reflections are eliminated.

For all simulations finite elements of length /10

has been choosen. Different values of range step x
somewhere in between 25 and 180m has taken. If a
smaller x is use the computation takes longer and
more computational resources will be needed. For
large x, the computation is accelerated, but some
significant atmosphere changes may miss and more
error will incur in simulation results. Therefore, x
should be optimally choosen accordingly for each
problem. However, it is possible to choose x and
element size having variable lengths in one simula-
Finite element formulation of parabolic equation
method using different terrain profiles is simple and Figure 1: Coverage diagram with out PML at
straightforward. As in the case of refractivity pro- 100MHz
files, at each range step x program requires a ter-
rain profile as a function of height. However if ter- It can be seen easily that waves propagates undis-
rain or refractivity profile is not changing along range turbed through the tropospheric medium under normal
than a single profile is sufficient. Terrain profile is en- atmospheric conditions. In figures 3, a bilinear sur-
tered in much the same way as refractivity profiles. face ducting profile is included at 100MHz, starting
All what is required is the series of data points cor- from the sea level to an altitude of 300m. Standard at-
responding to height versus range to describe terrain. mospheric conditions over this altitude were also as-
The simplest and most effective technique models ter- sumed. Figures 4 and 5 shows trapping mechanism
rain as a sequence of horizontal steps, and called stair- at 1GHz and 3GHz respectively. From the results,
case method. In this paper we use staircase method it is clear that a duct of sufficient intensity is capa-
to model terrain, however other approaches are dis- ble of capturing whole energy at 3GHz. At 100MHz
cussed in detail in [2]. duct is unable to divert waves but at 3GHz waves are
Atmospheric conditions can be entered into the almost completely trapped between the sea level and
simulation program as profiles of refractivity-height duct height.
Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS Int. Conference on TELECOMMUNICATIONS and INFORMATICS, Dallas, Texas, USA, March 22-24, 2007 109

Figure 2: Coverage diagram with PML at 100MHz Figure 5: Coverage Diagrams at low duct intensity
profiles at 3GHz

Figure 3: Coverage Diagrams at different duct inten-

sity profiles at 100MHz Figure 6: Coverage Diagrams at 100MHz on an irreg-
ular terrain

Figure 4: Coverage Diagrams at low duct intensity

profiles at 1GHz Figure 7: Path Loss in an urban street at 100MHz

In generating results for terrain modelling, two buildings of arbitrarily heights are placed on the street
different scenarios are choosen. In first scenario (fig- and span of street is assumed to be 50m. Figure 6
ure 6), an irregular terrain is assumed while in second shows coverage diagram in the presence of irregular
case (7), street in an urban area is considered. Three terrain generated by using rand function in matlab.
Proceedings of the 6th WSEAS Int. Conference on TELECOMMUNICATIONS and INFORMATICS, Dallas, Texas, USA, March 22-24, 2007 110

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