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Thread: How to make a map of rising air, in 3 dimensions, from a distance, and in real-time? For use by (glider) planes.

  1. #1 How to make a map of rising air, in 3 dimensions, from a distance, and in real-time? For use by (glider) planes. 
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    Hi,

    Imagine you are in a (glider) plane and you would like to visualize where there are pockets of rising air, with a usable high resolution. Maybe visualizing the pockets of rising and falling air as differently colored "clouds."

    What data would you use as input? And how could you measure that data?

    Relevant data could be:

    High resolution maps in 3 dimensions of the temperatures around you, in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 3 dimensions of the horizontal and vertical wind speeds and directions around you, in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 3 dimensions of the air humidity around you, in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 2 dimensions of the ground surface temperature, in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 2 dimensions of the albedo of the ground surface, in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 2 dimensions of the sunlight received on the ground, in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 2 dimensions of the clouds (cover), in real-time;
    High resolution maps in 3 dimensions of the relief of the terrain around you;
    High resolution maps in 3 dimensions of _________________ around you, in real-time.


    How could you get this data?






    Last edited by calimero; June 22nd, 2012 at 05:04 AM.
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  3. #2  
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    Methinks we're in urgent need of a meteorology textbook about now.


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  4. #3  
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    I'd ask a pilot
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  5. #4  
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    Thank you for your replies.

    Many of the things I mentioned currently are difficult or impossible to achieve. Hence the thread.

    I shouldn't really ask a pilot either, because they also cannot now soar on the thermals for as long as they wish. I should ask soaring birds, but they can't talk


    I'm asking myself, what kind of vision or sense would I need to see a gust of wind 100 meters away, like I can see a hare running across a field now? Or any of the other things I mentioned that might be more easy to measure.

    Anemometers or thermometers are useless because they only measure the wind speed or temperature locally.


    Now the air is completely transparent. If you could think of a way to perceive it as slightly translucent (like clouds), maybe you could start to see the airflow.
    Last edited by calimero; June 22nd, 2012 at 01:24 PM.
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  6. #5  
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    In addition to the information you have already supplied, I would think that measuring the surrounding electrical activity, the quantity and direction of dust, smoke, and other particulates in the air, the humidity on the ground in addition to around you (since areas over wet ground generally do not have a lot of updrafts), and rendering an air pressure gradient might be of use.

    As far as how to go about measuring these things, you could probably calibrate or modify a lightning detector (or maybe some other kind of weather probe) to be sensitive enough to detect more subtle changes in the air's electrical activity. One of the real time devices from here would probably work for dust particulates, and a barometer for the air pressure.
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  7. #6  
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    Another idea: perhaps if you were able to map and track the flight paths and concentration of birds, that would help. Birds tend to congregate near these air pockets to feed on insects that get swept into them.
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    One more idea (sorry, I keep thinking of these after I hit enter)...if you were able to get video feed or images from a satellite (or perhaps a weather probe?) that could image in multiple spectra, you could get a composite image that would help to visualize the updrafts.
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  9. #8  
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    Thanks for your ideas Saturn

    Plenty of things to mull over.

    Your comment on birds and insects made me think of this Nathan Myhrvold: Could this laser zap malaria? | Video on TED.com there they use sound (if I remember correctly) to locate mosquitoes and then use lasers to zap them out of the sky. You could imagine using this to make a real-time map of all the insects and birds around you.

    I think barometers and dust monitors only measure air pressure and dust locally, so are of not much use if you want to measure something from a distance.


    Anyone have an idea about using lasers, sound, visible light, infrared, radar, etc?
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by calimero View Post

    Anyone have an idea about using lasers, sound, visible light, infrared, radar, etc?
    That's what I was driving at with the satellite imagery idea, though the imaging might not have to be done from as a satellite...imaging the area in multiple infrared, ultraviolet, and visible wavelengths and see if that illuminated the pockets any better. You could probably use sonar to determine where all the insects and birds around you were too...the same way that bats use echolocation to find insects to eat.

    Here's another idea: in theory, if you released some MEMS into the atmosphere (not sure where you'd release them exactly...an optimal location would have to be determined. Maybe the towing plane could release them?), they might behave similarly to dust and get drawn into updrafts or dust devils the same way that dust and smoke does. The ones that get caught in the updrafts could transmit their location back to the pilot (or to the software the pilot was using to get generate the real-time map), and he or she would where to find an updraft. MEMS can also be used to detect some of the other things mentioned (temperature, pressure, humidity, electrical activity). However, doing this might be cost prohibitive and it would be pretty difficult to collect them again after the flight. Using MEMS makes anything more awesome though! Even something as awesome in and of itself as flying.
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    Any sailplane pilot worth his salt can stay up as long as he/she wants as long as there are thermals or orographic flow.

    BTW, the new NexRad dual polarization radar is quite good at detecting insects as well as discontinuities in the refractive index of air parcels. You can easily watch the seabreeze move inland. Here, you can also see the particulate air pollution above the NJ Turnpike.

    Not practical to use on a sailplane, but it is what you need.
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  12. #11  
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    Thanks for your replies

    You've given me a lot of new information. I'll try to digest it, and come back later.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by calimero View Post
    Hi,

    Imagine you are in a (glider) plane and you would like to visualize where there are pockets of rising air, with a usable high resolution. Maybe visualizing the pockets of rising and falling air as differently colored "clouds."

    What data would you use as input? And how could you measure that data?
    Many of the models put out vertical velocity maps, probably the best of them is the WRF model, but no all regions provide it. Here's an example of TX 700mb (about 5000 feet) map.
    http://www.atmo.ttu.edu/bancell/real...ttuwrfhome.php
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  14. #13  
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    Those don't have the resolution to be of value to a sailplane pilot though. Thermals are too small to show up, and come and go with clouds, winds, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Those don't have the resolution to be of value to a sailplane pilot though. Thermals are too small to show up, and come and go with clouds, winds, etc.
    Depends what you're after. Most good glider conditions are tied to larger scale movements.

    When I used to forecast our models weren't even that good, but still useful as a starting point--and yes we used to forecast for glider pilots riding the Pennsylvania ridge system. the observational resolution for weather ballons+wind profiler network is still only about 200miles over most of the US--so that's only going to get you so far but still provides very useful data.


    We'd also look at the model data at each level (e.g 850, 700mb) where the winds would intercept the terrain. From there we'd look at the best visible satellite photographs, which would often tell us where the air was rising to the lifting condensation level which were often aligned the uplifting ridges; sometimes it could also tell us where the deep thermals were. This was more a matter of nowcasting. Most of my forecast were hand drawn, probably a fading skill among younger meteorologist.
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