Clear skies can be full of invisible clear-air turbulence or CAT, that are now easier to detect and predict thanks to a laser-based detection system known as DELICAT.
Images © DLR
The new DELICAT system developed by the DLR German Aerospace Center, will give pilots an advanced notice to avoid the invisible turbulence. It works by blasting short-wave ultraviolet laser radiation ahead of the aircraft.
“Researchers at the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics have developed a laser-based measurement device to do this. A LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) instrument can be installed on board an aircraft and emits short-wave ultraviolet laser radiation along the direction of flight.
The density of the air is determined from the backscatter value measured for the air molecules, oxygen and nitrogen. Fluctuations in this density then provide information about the turbulence there. This indirectly acquired information enables analysis of the air in the region the aircraft is about to fly through. In other words, clear air turbulence is made visible in advance along the route.”