EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

THERMAL: Sampling Atmospheric Convection Using Paragliders

Juraj Palenik1 and Thomas Spengler2,3
Juraj Palenik and Thomas Spengler
  • 1Dpt. of Informatics, University of Bergen, Norway (
  • 2Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Norway
  • 3Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Atmospheric convection is responsible for turbulent transport of heat, moisture, and momentum and fuels the convective cloud formation. Due to lack of observations, numerical prediction models treat convection using sometimes inadequately constrained parametrization schemes. Observations of atmospheric convection to further constrain these parameterisations are notoriously difficult to obtain due to the intermittent, localized,  and turbulent character of convection. However, every day, hundreds of paragliding, hang gliding, and gliding pilots probe the convective boundary layer in hope of finding the best convective thermals. They spend years learning the art of finding and flying in the convective air, while they proudly share their flight tracks online. In this presentation we show how tracks of these engineless aircrafts can be used to sample atmospheric convection. We showcase a dataset from a paragliding championship to classify convection. We elaborate on how the international databases can be used to characterize atmospheric convection and aid building parametrizations based on machine learning.

How to cite: Palenik, J. and Spengler, T.: THERMAL: Sampling Atmospheric Convection Using Paragliders, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-5352,, 2022.

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