Date of Award
Master of Science
Frank G. Collins
Basil N. Antar, Uwe Peter Solies
Various methods have been used, including airborne radars, LIDAR, observation of flying birds, towers, tethered balloons, and aircraft to gain both a qualitative and quantitative representation of how heat and moisture are transported to higher altitudes and grow the boundary or mixing layer by thermal updrafts. This paper builds upon that research using an instrumented glider to determine the structure and build a mathematical model of thermals in a desert environment. During these flights, it was discovered that the traditional view of a thermal as a singular rising plume of air did not sufficiently explain what was being observed, but rather another phenomenon was occurring. This paper puts forth the argument and a mathematical model to show that thermals actually take the form of a hexagonal convection cell at higher levels in the convective boundary layer when the thermal acts as if unrestrained by borders as in non-linear cases of free convection.
Childress, Christopher E., "An Empirical Model of Thermal Updrafts Using Data Obtained From a Manned Glider. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2010.