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D. H. Lenschow and W. T. Pennell


Measurements of air temperature with an immersion thermometer from an aircraft are invariably affected by the increased temperature of the decelerated air in the vicinity of the element. For dry air and a dry thermometer this effect is well known and usually taken into account. However, the evaporation of water from an element which has been wetted either intentionally (as in a wet-bulb thermometer) or unintentionally (by cloud or rain droplets) reduces this temperature increase. The psychrometric equation generalized for high-speed flow is used to calculate the aerodynamic correction factor for a wet temperature sensor. As an example of the magnitude of the evaporation effect, the temperature difference between a wet and a dry thermometer in a saturated airstream moving at 70 m sec−1>1C.

Aircraft measurements in clouds from 3 different temperature sensors are discussed. The temperature differences between an exposed and a protected thermometer are found to be as large as 1C in conditions where the exposed thermometer is wet and the protected thermometer is dry. More importantly, the outputs of the two sensors are well correlated in clear air but are uncorrelated in cloud. Humidity measured with a wet-bulb depression sensor is found to compare very well with the output of a dewpoint hygrometer in clear air. This sensor is also a good cloud indicator since the wet-bulb depression is ∼0 only when the dry-bulb thermometer is completely wet.

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