Measurements of drift cloud mass from 11 cases selected from a study of wind-borne droplet drift from ultra low-volume aerial spray applications over northern Ontario forests are presented as a function of atmospheric stability. Six swaths were overlaid onto a flight line in 30 min to obtain ensemble-averaged data from rotary atomizer emissions from an agricultural spray plane flying at about 21 and 26 m above ground level. The estimated volume median diameters of the spray were 100 µm for the 21-m height and 70 µm for the 26-m height. The mass of spray material in the drift cloud was measured at 400, 1200, and 2200 m downwind of the (crosswind) flight line using Rotorods™ suspended from tethered blimps. Wind speed at aircraft height varied from 2 to 5 m s−1 and meteorological conditions varied from moderately stable to moderately unstable.
Analysis of the data revealed that 35% more drift occurred in stable than in unstable conditions. The lowest drift was measured when the aircraft was flown in the morning mixing layer beneath a low capping inversion. Under thee conditions, only 18% of the emission drifted put 400 m downwind and 10% past 1200 m. The highest drift occurred in moderately stable flow, 71% past 400 m and 50% past 2200 m in 3 m s−1 wind speeds and, in slightly stable flow, 77% past 400 m and 27% past 2200 m in 5 m s−1 wind speeds.
Within experimental error, little difference was observed between wind drift of the 100-µm-diameter droplets and the 70-µm-diameter droplets past 400 m downwind although farther downwind, drift from the larger-droplet emission was less. This difference is discussed in terms of the descent rate of the aircraft vortex wake in stable conditions.