Thermal Map

Below you see a map of thermals. These are upward winds used by paragliding and hang gliding pilots to reach a higher altitude. Good thermals happen to be in similar places based on parameters like the time of the day, the day of the year, and others.

The map shows all relevant thermals for the given position and time as if a paraglider would be there. It answers questions like

Figuring out the answers to this kind of question was possible before. It just took a lot more time and/or tries. I hope that with this information at hand, many pilots can improve faster and have longer and better flights.

Usage

The Pin symbolizes a paraglider at the current location. You can drag and drop it to move around. The current date, time, and height can be entered with the controls on top. When you refresh, a random typical takeoff situation is shown.

Details

For the map above, more than seven million thermals were extracted from over a million flights. They are filtered based on a given time and date. The selected year is ignored.

Another important aspect is the current height. Only thermals that can be reached are shown. This is calculated by checking if the distance to the known thermal entry position can be reached from the current position and height.

Contrary to that, some thermals have such a low exit altitude that they can not improve the current position. We are able to fly over the top of these thermals. Those points are also excluded. You can see this by setting a very high altitude value. Closer thermal points will disappear.

From the given time, a time window is calculated with 60 minutes around. However, for being able to see the earliest and latest thermals, the window is sliding based on what time it is. So, for 9:00 the 60 minutes are from 8:00 to 9:00 but for 21:00, the window goes from 21:00 to 22:00. There is a similar window of 30 days around the current date. However, the specific numbers are subject to change.

To distinguish good thermals from not so good, the points are color-coded. Red indicates a high potential climb while blue stands for less vertical gain. When zooming out, multiple points are combined and the area turns red as well.

FAQ

Why do thermal points move a little when slightly changing height or position?

Because the entry point into a thermal changes. Thermals often do not move straight up but are affected by the wind. Therefore, when reaching the thermal close to the bottom, you have a different entry point than when reaching it close to the top.

Is there a fullscreen map?

Yes, you can see the thermal heatmap in fullscreen.

Changelog

13.02.2021

Updated database with 39 GB of flights from https://parapente.ffvl.fr/ for better coverage of France. The flights are from all around France and stretch into Switzerland and Spain:

The area covered by the update.


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