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A New Fast Response Instrument for Measuring Total Water Content from Aircraft

S. NichollsMeteorological Research Flight, Royal Aerospace Establishment, Farnborough, Hants, England

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J. LeightonMeteorological Research Flight, Royal Aerospace Establishment, Farnborough, Hants, England

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R. BarkerMeteorological Research Flight, Royal Aerospace Establishment, Farnborough, Hants, England

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Abstract

A device for measuring the total water content of a parcel of air from an aircraft has been developed. The total water of a parcel of air is a conserved quantity, independent of phase changes, provided there is no transport of water through the parcel boundaries. Current airborne hygrometers normally attempt to measure the water content in individual phases and the presence of other phases invariably influences the quality of the data. However, any liquid water or ice entering this new probe is efficiently evaporated and the resultant water vapor measured using a Lyman-alpha hygrometer.

In airborne trials the device was calibrated against a cooled-mirror dewpoint device. Runs were conducted in warm stratocumulus tops, through small cumulus, in mixed-phase precipitation and cirrus cloud. In all cases the device was found to produce high quality, fast response data.

Abstract

A device for measuring the total water content of a parcel of air from an aircraft has been developed. The total water of a parcel of air is a conserved quantity, independent of phase changes, provided there is no transport of water through the parcel boundaries. Current airborne hygrometers normally attempt to measure the water content in individual phases and the presence of other phases invariably influences the quality of the data. However, any liquid water or ice entering this new probe is efficiently evaporated and the resultant water vapor measured using a Lyman-alpha hygrometer.

In airborne trials the device was calibrated against a cooled-mirror dewpoint device. Runs were conducted in warm stratocumulus tops, through small cumulus, in mixed-phase precipitation and cirrus cloud. In all cases the device was found to produce high quality, fast response data.

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