Who is behind TherMap ?
TherMap is a private initiative of Dr. Beda Sigrist, a senior
Swiss glider pilot with a background in engineering, computing, and
industrial optimization. Impressed by the precision of the regional
meteorological forecasting tools of RegTherm and TopTherm, he started
to investigate the possibilities of making use of presently available
topographic data, along the ideas of TherMap. With the primary advice
of Olivier Liechti, the initiator of Regtherm and Toptherm,
the encouragement of OSTIV, particularly of Hermann Trimmel,
as well as the positive response of numerous experienced glider pilots,
he pursued the development of TherMap up to the present version. The
Flying Club of Gruyère, Switzerland, has been hosting
the site from the beginning.
The feedback by pilots and experts has permitted
to continuously improve the model and to update this site with still
better maps. In this respect particular thanks go to Alfred Ultsch,
for his additional validations on the basis of flightlogs, his publication
of the findings (ref. 10), and for his pertinent improvement proposals.
Further thanks go to Iakov Shrage, a top competition glider
pilot besides 21500 hours as an airline pilot, who encouraged the
extension of this site to also cover the region of Slovakia. The latest
evolution, the extention to US regions down to 35 degrees latitude,
with very high sun elevations during summer months, became possible
thanks to the initiative and practical advice of Sergio Colasevic.
This step also required further developments to make the maps more
Can the application behind TherMap be purchased?
No, it cannot. It might of course be interesting to make available
the source code used to generate the maps. The developments are however
likely to continue. If the source code was distributed, the product
would have to be wrapped up as a professional package and update management
procedures introduced to ensure that the users would always have available
the latest version. The resulting costs would require a costly commercial
approach. Apart from the much bigger effort, this would be in conflict
with the conditions set by SRTM, the distributor of the satellite
data, which is basically only made available for non-commercial use.
What possibilities exist to use the TherMap
model for topographically smoother regions ?
This is a question we continue to ask ourselves. With the introduction
of the thermal pressure model it became possible to produce maps for
regions outside the higher mountains, such as the Jura. In topographically
still less pronounced regions the local variations of the surface
becomes smaller and more scattered, making it more difficult to identify
topographically induced thermal takeoff areas. In addition the flight
level above ground are usually higher than in mountain areas, making
it also more difficult to validate possible thermal models on the
basis of flight track data. However thermals always have a physical
cause. It may therefore be possible that other than orographic causes,
such as the infrared characteristics of the surface, may some day
also become freely available and permit to develop valid solutions
for flatter regions.
What possibilities exist
to generate TherMap images reflecting the actual local meteorological
conditions at a given time?
This question can probably only be answered in the longer term. In
Europe diagrams showing the hourly meteorological evolution are available
for regions of 50 to 100 kilometers. On this basis in would, in principle,
be possible to generate corresponding TherMap presentations. The data
would however have to be paid, because it would have to be supplied
for automatic processing. In addition there would also be the costs
of daily processing. On the other hand we have to keep in mind that
the actual demand for such highly detailed maps would be rather marginal.
Can TherMap be extended to other region?
The development of TherMap has also been the result of intensive
information exchange with experts and experienced pilots, because
the models represent only partly physical processes, the
other parts being rather models of the perception of experienced
pilots. For any new region to be addressed it is therefore crucial
to have competent and experienced counterparts to properly adjust
and validate the models, if necessary. With pertinent help of local
colleages it would however be a pleasure to extend the scope of
TherMap to further suitable regions.
Can the maps also be used by paragliders?
In principle yes, but due to their slower speed and lower gliding
ratio, paragliders are more limited in the use they can make of
the maps. In countries such as Switzerland,
paragliding "highway" maps have been successfully established
on the basis of statistical analyses of flight logs. Therefore the
resulting routes are strongly determined by the preferred paraglider
take-off locations, hence leaving out many interesting areas known
by glider pilots and shown on TherMap.