Course paper / final thesis

Wind and turbulence measurements with a glider aircraft

Starting date


Duration of contract

6-12 months

Type of employment


"Cutting-edge research requires excellent minds – particularly more females – at all levels. Launch your mission with us and send in your application now!" Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund - Chair of the DLR Executive Board

Your mission:

Airborne meteorological measurements have a long tradition and history. The type of aerial vehicles that has been used for meteorological purposes ranges from balloons to small remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) to large research aircraft. Glider aircraft have also been used in the past to measure winds as well as temperature and humidity. Their big advantage is the flexible use in lower altitudes and lower operational costs compared to larger research aircraft. However, in conditions of strong gravity waves, caused for example by flow over mountains, it is feasible to reach comparatively high altitudes of 10 km and more with glider aircraft and travel large distances. To study the flow and atmospheric conditions during such flights, a meteorological measurement system has been developed consisting of a five-hole-probe for flow measurement, an inertial measurement unit (IMU), as well as a temperature and humidity sensor, which allows measuring the three-dimensional wind vector including turbulent fluctuations with a resolution of a few meters only. These kinds of measurements on a glider aircraft pose some challenges on hardware, data processing and analysis which should be addressed in this work. The measurement system will be deployed in the SouthTRAC campaign which is focusing on the investigation of composition and transport of the upper troposphere / lower stratosphere (UTLS) in the southern hemisphere. The role of mountain waves generated by the Andes in Southern America should particularly be studied with the glider aircraft measurements.

Subtasks of the work:

  • Analysis of already performed flights:
    • Detailed analysis of in-flight calibration with standard maneuvers and improvement of calibration algorithms
    • Identification of aircraft-specific noise or flow distortions in dependency of flight conditions (motor flight vs. gliding flight, straight legs vs. dynamic flight maneuvers, etc.)
    • Sensitivity study of wind measurement in dependency of flow-probe calibration range (sensitivity of calibration to Mach-Number)
    • Identification and analysis of flow features (updraughts, downdraughts, rotors, etc…) in the collected dataset
  • Technical improvements:
    • Optimization of in-flight meteorological data display
    • Integration of fast response temperature probe
    • Acoustic calibration of flow probe for improved temporal resolution
  • Statistical analysis of wave-flights:
    • Analysis of a broader dataset that will be collected in European mountain ranges with regards to wave occurrences, intensity and conditions…

Your qualifications:

  • Bachelor in Physics, Aerospace Engineering, Meteorology or related disciplines
  • good knowledge of scientific programming (preferably in Python)
  • basic knowledge of C-programming
  • basic knowledge of Unix/Linux
  • strong interest in Atmospheric Physics desired
  • interest in measurement Technology desired
  • readiness to participate in measurement flights in a glider aircraft desired
  • Android App development with C++ and Qt (not compulsory) desired

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy puts great value on a healthy work-life balance as well as equal opportunities for men and women. Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

Norman Wildmann
Institute of Atmospheric Physics

Phone: +49 8153 28-1578

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Vacancy 29848

HR department Oberpfaffenhofen

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DLR site Oberpfaffenhofen

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DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics

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