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Can rising air be detected visually from a distance?

All soaring pilots would be exhilerated by the possibility of locating columns of rising air visually from a distance by means of thermovision or some other technique. Can modern technology provide for this? A solution could be either to observe/detect actual temperature differences or movement of particles of dust carried by what is commonly reffered to as thermals.

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    Oct 27 2012: There is a methode based on ruby lasers called Doppler LIDAR or Rayleigh Doppler LIDAR which is able to measure temperature and/or wind speed along the laser-beam by measuring the frequency of backscattered light.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIDAR#Meteorology_and_atmospheric_environment

    There look for its application for 'Meteorology and atmospheric environment'

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxlSZ-SB1XQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ4T3I3Sb3o&feature=relmfu


    Also there is another methode called 'Schlieren photography', which, in a correct setup, can also produce real-time video footage and not just still-pictures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlieren_photography

    Due to its specific light conditions, this methode may not be adjustable to ambient sunlight, yet there might be solutions ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mA98ZBdkW0M
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSFwH0BVd3Q
    • Oct 29 2012: Many thanks Lejan. I looked at all suggested links. Schlieren - wonderful as it is - does not seem viable in the discussed context due to the need of using a mirror, however LIDAR if properly developed ... who knows.
  • Oct 29 2012: Sure! No need for electronics, just look for birds-especially birds of prey. They use those currents all the time.
  • Oct 29 2012: Following the line of your argument, are you suggesting that sailors should abandon the use of GPS and perhaps even the sextant, hunters should abandon their infrared optical instruments, physicians should discard USG and X-ray?
    I am afraid we are collectively doomed to always crave for innovations much as our foreparents craved for that forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.
    I am perfectly aware that the day is not far off when technology (human made) will emancipate itself from human control, but am equally convinced that individual atavistic behaviours will not hinder this process. Coming back to the original topic, I am sure those birds of pray with proverbial keen eyesight would conversrly stand to benefit from thermals marked by sailplane pilots accoutred with electronic thermal finders :-).
  • Oct 29 2012: Isn't that something you glider or sail plane pilots take pride in the explitation of a special skill or gift? Good job.