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Edwin W. Eloranta, Roland B. Stull, and Elizabeth E. Ebert


A calibration device was designed to fit over the Lyman-α (LA) probes on the NCAR King Air aircraft to allow the introduction of pure nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide gases into the probe's radiation path. With these three gases, it was possible to calculate three of the most important terms in the LA humidity equation: path length, reference voltage (radiation) and oxygen absorption. This calibration device was tested in France during the HAPEX-MOBILHY field program, and was found to perform successfully.

As a result of the calibration, it was found that the effective LA path lengths during HAPEX were significantly different from the “nominal” path length physically set at the start of the experiment. Also, the oxygen absorption cross section was over twice as large as the published values, suggesting that the emission spectra of the lamps used in the LA probes are contaminated with other emission lines. The measured LA probe output reference voltages for no absorption were found to be slowly varying in time, suggesting that inflight “floating” calibrations against another reference hygrometer are necessary, in addition to the pre- and post-flight calibrations on the ground using the test device.

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