Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC), 2010, pp. 1-6 Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ICC.2010.5502315. 978-1-4244-6404-3/10 ©2010 IEEE


Wireless Underground Sensor Networks (WUSNs) consist of wirelessly connected underground sensor nodes that communicate untethered through soil. WUSNs have the potential to impact a wide variety of novel applications including intelligent irrigation, environment monitoring, border patrol, and assisted navigation. Although its deployment is mainly based on underground sensor nodes, a WUSN still requires aboveground devices for data retrieval, management, and relay functionalities. Therefore, the characterization of the bi-directional communication between a buried node and an aboveground device is essential for the realization of WUSNs. In this work, empirical evaluations of underground-to-aboveground (UG2AG) and aboveground-to-underground (AG2UG) communication are presented. More specifically, testbed experiments have been conducted with commodity sensor motes in a real-life agricultural field. The results highlight the asymmetry between UG2AG and AG2UG communication for different burial depths. To combat the adverse effects of the change in wavelength in soil, an ultra wideband antenna scheme is deployed, which increases the communication range by more than 350% compared to the original antennas. The results also reveal that a 21% increase in the soil moisture decreases the communication range by more than 70%. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first empirical study that highlights the effects of the antenna design, burial depth, and soil moisture on both UG2AG and AG2UG communication performance. These results have a significant impact on the development of multi-hop networking protocols for WUSNs.