Visual Simulation of Heat Shimmering and Mirage

Ye Zhao, Yiping Han, Zhe Fan, Feng Qiu, Yu-Chuan Kuo, Arie E. Kaufman, Klaus Mueller
Department of Computer Science, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242
IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 2007


   title={Visual simulation of heat shimmering and mirage},

   author={Zhao, Y. and Han, Y. and Fan, Z. and Qiu, F. and Kuo, Y.C. and Kaufman, A.E. and Mueller, K.},

   journal={IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},



   publisher={IEEE Computer Society}


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We provide a physically-based framework for simulating the natural phenomena related to heat interaction between objects and the surrounding air. We introduce a heat transfer model between the heat source objects and the ambient flow environment, which includes conduction, convection, and radiation. The heat distribution of the objects is represented by a novel temperature texture. We simulate the thermal flow dynamics that models the air flow interacting with the heat by a hybrid thermal lattice Boltzmann model (HTLBM). The computational approach couples a multiple-relaxation-time LBM (MRTLBM) with a finite difference discretization of a standard advection-diffusion equation for temperature. In heat shimmering and mirage, the changes in the index of refraction of the surrounding air are attributed to temperature variation. A nonlinear ray tracing method is used for rendering. Interactive performance is achieved by accelerating the computation of both the MRTLBM and the heat transfer, as well as the rendering on contemporary graphics hardware (GPU).
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