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R. Giles Harrison, Keri A. Nicoll, Douglas J. Tilley, Graeme J. Marlton, Stefan Chindea, Gavin P. Dingley, Pejman Iravani, David J. Cleaver, Jonathan L. du Bois, and David Brus


Electric charge is always present in the lower atmosphere. If droplets or aerosols become charged, their behavior changes, influencing collision, evaporation, and deposition. Artificial charge release is an unexplored potential geoengineering technique for modifying fogs, clouds, and rainfall. Central to evaluating these processes experimentally in the atmosphere is establishing an effective method for charge delivery. A small charge-delivering remotely piloted aircraft has been specially developed for this, which is electrically propelled. It carries controllable bipolar charge emitters (nominal emission current ±5 μA) beneath each wing, with optical cloud and meteorological sensors integrated into the airframe. Meteorological and droplet measurements are demonstrated to 2 km altitude by comparison with a radiosonde, including within cloud, and successful charge emission aloft verified by using programmed flight paths above an upward-facing surface electric field mill. This technological approach is readily scalable to provide nonpolluting fleets of charge-releasing aircraft, identifying and targeting droplet regions with their own sensors. Beyond geoengineering, agricultural, and biological aerosol applications, safe ionic propulsion of future electric aircraft also requires detailed investigation of charge effects on natural atmospheric droplet systems.

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Gijs de Boer, Constantin Diehl, Jamey Jacob, Adam Houston, Suzanne W. Smith, Phillip Chilson, David G. Schmale III, Janet Intrieri, James Pinto, Jack Elston, David Brus, Osku Kemppinen, Alex Clark, Dale Lawrence, Sean C. C. Bailey, Michael P. Sama, Amy Frazier, Christopher Crick, Victoria Natalie, Elizabeth Pillar-Little, Petra Klein, Sean Waugh, Julie K. Lundquist, Lindsay Barbieri, Stephan T. Kral, Anders A. Jensen, Cory Dixon, Steven Borenstein, Daniel Hesselius, Kathleen Human, Philip Hall, Brian Argrow, Troy Thornberry, Randy Wright, and Jason T. Kelly


Because unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer new perspectives on the atmosphere, their use in atmospheric science is expanding rapidly. In support of this growth, the International Society for Atmospheric Research Using Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (ISARRA) has been developed and has convened annual meetings and “flight weeks.” The 2018 flight week, dubbed the Lower Atmospheric Profiling Studies at Elevation–A Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Team Experiment (LAPSE-RATE), involved a 1-week deployment to Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Between 14 and 20 July 2018 over 100 students, scientists, engineers, pilots, and outreach coordinators conducted an intensive field operation using unmanned aircraft and ground-based assets to develop datasets, community, and capabilities. In addition to a coordinated “Community Day” which offered a chance for groups to share their aircraft and science with the San Luis Valley community, LAPSE-RATE participants conducted nearly 1,300 research flights totaling over 250 flight hours. The measurements collected have been used to advance capabilities (instrumentation, platforms, sampling techniques, and modeling tools), conduct a detailed system intercomparison study, develop new collaborations, and foster community support for the use of UAS in atmospheric science.

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Tuukka Petäjä, Ewan J. O’Connor, Dmitri Moisseev, Victoria A. Sinclair, Antti J. Manninen, Riikka Väänänen, Annakaisa von Lerber, Joel A. Thornton, Keri Nicoll, Walt Petersen, V. Chandrasekar, James N. Smith, Paul M. Winkler, Olaf Krüger, Hannele Hakola, Hilkka Timonen, David Brus, Tuomas Laurila, Eija Asmi, Marja-Liisa Riekkola, Lucia Mona, Paola Massoli, Ronny Engelmann, Mika Komppula, Jian Wang, Chongai Kuang, Jaana Bäck, Annele Virtanen, Janne Levula, Michael Ritsche, and Nicki Hickmon


During Biogenic Aerosols—Effects on Clouds and Climate (BAECC), the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program deployed the Second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) to Hyytiälä, Finland, for an 8-month intensive measurement campaign from February to September 2014. The primary research goal is to understand the role of biogenic aerosols in cloud formation. Hyytiälä is host to the Station for Measuring Ecosystem–Atmosphere Relations II (SMEAR II), one of the world’s most comprehensive surface in situ observation sites in a boreal forest environment. The station has been measuring atmospheric aerosols, biogenic emissions, and an extensive suite of parameters relevant to atmosphere–biosphere interactions continuously since 1996. Combining vertical profiles from AMF2 with surface-based in situ SMEAR II observations allows the processes at the surface to be directly related to processes occurring throughout the entire tropospheric column. Together with the inclusion of extensive surface precipitation measurements and intensive observation periods involving aircraft flights and novel radiosonde launches, the complementary observations provide a unique opportunity for investigating aerosol–cloud interactions and cloud-to-precipitation processes in a boreal environment. The BAECC dataset provides opportunities for evaluating and improving models of aerosol sources and transport, cloud microphysical processes, and boundary layer structures. In addition, numerical models are being used to bridge the gap between surface-based and tropospheric observations.

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