At least somewhere the turbulence research is funded, so we keep fingers crossed for its future

Air travelers, astronomers stand to benefit from research on atmospheric turbulence

Air travelers, astronomers stand to benefit from research on atmospheric turbulence

TEMPE, Ariz. – Anyone who frequently travels by airplane has likely
experienced clear-air turbulence. It’s the kind of jarring turbulence
that can quickly turn a smooth flight into a bumpy ride, often causing
aircraft to drop anywhere from a few feet to thousands of feet within
seconds.

A recently awarded $716,000 grant from the U.S. Air
Force Office of Scientific Research will fund research by ASU professor
Alex Mahalov aimed at reducing those anxious moments for air travelers.

Mahalov also will study another kind of atmospheric turbulence that poses problems for astronomers.

Optical
turbulence results from the amplitude and phase fluctuations in
electromagnetic waves propagating through the atmosphere, which is what
causes stars to appear to “twinkle.” It also is a major source of
telescope image degradation, making it difficult for astronomers to get
clear views into space.

Mahalov is a professor in the
Department of Mathematics and Statistics in ASU’s College of Liberal
Arts and Science, with a joint appointment in the Department of
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the university’s Ira A. Fulton
School of Engineering.

Working in the engineering school’s
Center for Environmental Fluid Dynamics, Mahalov will use funding from
the grant over a three-year period to improve techniques for
identifying, forecasting and detecting areas of clear-air turbulence
and modeling of optical turbulence under extreme environmental
conditions.

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