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Stuart P. Beaton and Mike Spowart

Abstract

A next-generation vacuum-ultraviolet (Lyman-alpha) absorption hygrometer for high-rate research aircraft humidity measurements designed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research is described. It retains the high data rate, optical and mechanical simplicity, and low maintenance of previous Lyman-alpha hygrometers, while incorporating modern electronics and rugged, long-lived commercially available lamps and detectors. The mass of the sensing head is 2.0 kg in a volume of 3700 cm3, while the power supply is 1.3 kg mass in a volume of 1100 cm3. Power draw is 0.2 A at 120 V alternating current (AC). In bench and aircraft flight testing the prototype shows a bandwidth of 35 Hz and mixing ratio noise of ±0.5% over a water vapor mixing ratio range of 2–15 g kg−1. This range can be scaled to lower mixing ratios by increasing the pathlength. This performance enables measurements of water vapor concentration with high spatial resolution from research aircraft. The prototype instrument has flown over 380 h with minimal maintenance or repairs.

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Jørgen B. Jensen, Stuart P. Beaton, Jeffrey L. Stith, Karl Schwenz, Marilé Colón-Robles, Robert M. Rauber, and John Gras

Abstract

Size distributions of giant aerosol particles (dry radius larger than 0.5 μm, sometimes referred to as coarse-mode aerosol particles) are not well characterized in the atmosphere. Measurements are problematic for these particles because they (i) occur in low concentrations, (ii) have difficulty in passing through air inlets, (iii) may be dry or deliquesced particles, and (iv) if sampled by impaction, typically require labor-intensive methods. In this study, a simple, high-volume impaction system called the Giant Nucleus Impactor (GNI), based on free-stream exposure of polycarbonate slides from aircraft, is described along with an automated optical microscope–based system for analysis of the impacted particles. The impaction slides are analyzed in a humidity-controlled chamber (typically 90% relative humidity) that ensures deliquescence of soluble (typically sea salt) particles. A computer-controlled optical microscope with two digital cameras is used to acquire and analyze images of the aerosol particles. At relative humidities above deliquescence (74% RH for sea salt), such particles will form near-spherical cap solution drops on the polycarbonate slides. The sea-salt mass in each giant aerosol particle is then calculated using simple geometry and published water activity measurements. The system has a sample volume of about 10 L s−1 at aircraft speeds of 105 m s−1. For salt particles, the measurement range is from about 0.7 μm dry radius to at least 16 μm dry radius, with a size-bin resolution of 0.2 μm dry radius. The sizing accuracy was tested using polystyrene latex (PSL) beads of known size.

Open access
Ronald B. Smith, Alison D. Nugent, Christopher G. Kruse, David C. Fritts, James D. Doyle, Steven D. Eckermann, Michael J. Taylor, Andreas Dörnbrack, M. Uddstrom, William Cooper, Pavel Romashkin, Jorgen Jensen, and Stuart Beaton

Abstract

During the Deep Propagating Gravity Wave Experiment (DEEPWAVE) project in June and July 2014, the Gulfstream V research aircraft flew 97 legs over the Southern Alps of New Zealand and 150 legs over the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, mostly in the low stratosphere at 12.1-km altitude. Improved instrument calibration, redundant sensors, longer flight legs, energy flux estimation, and scale analysis revealed several new gravity wave properties. Over the sea, flight-level wave fluxes mostly fell below the detection threshold. Over terrain, disturbances had characteristic mountain wave attributes of positive vertical energy flux (EFz), negative zonal momentum flux, and upwind horizontal energy flux. In some cases, the fluxes changed rapidly within an 8-h flight, even though environmental conditions were nearly unchanged. The largest observed zonal momentum and vertical energy fluxes were MFx = −550 mPa and EFz = 22 W m−2, respectively.

A wide variety of disturbance scales were found at flight level over New Zealand. The vertical wind variance at flight level was dominated by short “fluxless” waves with wavelengths in the 6–15-km range. Even shorter scales, down to 500 m, were found in wave breaking regions. The wavelength of the flux-carrying mountain waves was much longer—mostly between 60 and 150 km. In the strong cases, however, with EFz > 4 W m−2, the dominant flux wavelength decreased (i.e., “downshifted”) to an intermediate wavelength between 20 and 60 km. A potential explanation for the rapid flux changes and the scale “downshifting” is that low-level flow can shift between “terrain following” and “envelope following” associated with trapped air in steep New Zealand valleys.

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Bruce Albrecht, Virendra Ghate, Johannes Mohrmann, Robert Wood, Paquita Zuidema, Christopher Bretherton, Christian Schwartz, Edwin Eloranta, Susanne Glienke, Shaunna Donaher, Mampi Sarkar, Jeremy McGibbon, Alison D. Nugent, Raymond A. Shaw, Jacob Fugal, Patrick Minnis, Robindra Paliknoda, Louis Lussier, Jorgen Jensen, J. Vivekanandan, Scott Ellis, Peisang Tsai, Robert Rilling, Julie Haggerty, Teresa Campos, Meghan Stell, Michael Reeves, Stuart Beaton, John Allison, Gregory Stossmeister, Samuel Hall, and Sebastian Schmidt

Abstract

The Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (CSET) study was designed to describe and explain the evolution of the boundary layer aerosol, cloud, and thermodynamic structures along trajectories within the North Pacific trade winds. The study centered on seven round trips of the National Science Foundation–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF–NCAR) Gulfstream V (GV) between Sacramento, California, and Kona, Hawaii, between 7 July and 9 August 2015. The CSET observing strategy was to sample aerosol, cloud, and boundary layer properties upwind from the transition zone over the North Pacific and to resample these areas two days later. Global Forecast System forecast trajectories were used to plan the outbound flight to Hawaii with updated forecast trajectories setting the return flight plan two days later. Two key elements of the CSET observing system were the newly developed High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) Cloud Radar (HCR) and the high-spectral-resolution lidar (HSRL). Together they provided unprecedented characterizations of aerosol, cloud, and precipitation structures that were combined with in situ measurements of aerosol, cloud, precipitation, and turbulence properties. The cloud systems sampled included solid stratocumulus infused with smoke from Canadian wildfires, mesoscale cloud–precipitation complexes, and patches of shallow cumuli in very clean environments. Ultraclean layers observed frequently near the top of the boundary layer were often associated with shallow, optically thin, layered veil clouds. The extensive aerosol, cloud, drizzle, and boundary layer sampling made over open areas of the northeast Pacific along 2-day trajectories during CSET will be an invaluable resource for modeling studies of boundary layer cloud system evolution and its governing physical processes.

Open access
Britton B. Stephens, Matthew C. Long, Ralph F. Keeling, Eric A. Kort, Colm Sweeney, Eric C. Apel, Elliot L. Atlas, Stuart Beaton, Jonathan D. Bent, Nicola J. Blake, James F. Bresch, Joanna Casey, Bruce C. Daube, Minghui Diao, Ernesto Diaz, Heidi Dierssen, Valeria Donets, Bo-Cai Gao, Michelle Gierach, Robert Green, Justin Haag, Matthew Hayman, Alan J. Hills, Martín S. Hoecker-Martínez, Shawn B. Honomichl, Rebecca S. Hornbrook, Jorgen B. Jensen, Rong-Rong Li, Ian McCubbin, Kathryn McKain, Eric J. Morgan, Scott Nolte, Jordan G. Powers, Bryan Rainwater, Kaylan Randolph, Mike Reeves, Sue M. Schauffler, Katherine Smith, Mackenzie Smith, Jeff Stith, Gregory Stossmeister, Darin W. Toohey, and Andrew S. Watt

Abstract

The Southern Ocean plays a critical role in the global climate system by mediating atmosphere–ocean partitioning of heat and carbon dioxide. However, Earth system models are demonstrably deficient in the Southern Ocean, leading to large uncertainties in future air–sea CO2 flux projections under climate warming and incomplete interpretations of natural variability on interannual to geologic time scales. Here, we describe a recent aircraft observational campaign, the O2/N2 Ratio and CO2 Airborne Southern Ocean (ORCAS) study, which collected measurements over the Southern Ocean during January and February 2016. The primary research objective of the ORCAS campaign was to improve observational constraints on the seasonal exchange of atmospheric carbon dioxide and oxygen with the Southern Ocean. The campaign also included measurements of anthropogenic and marine biogenic reactive gases; high-resolution, hyperspectral ocean color imaging of the ocean surface; and microphysical data relevant for understanding and modeling cloud processes. In each of these components of the ORCAS project, the campaign has significantly expanded the amount of observational data available for this remote region. Ongoing research based on these observations will contribute to advancing our understanding of this climatically important system across a range of topics including carbon cycling, atmospheric chemistry and transport, and cloud physics. This article presents an overview of the scientific and methodological aspects of the ORCAS project and highlights early findings.

Open access