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Probing Finescale Dynamics and Microphysics of Clouds with Helicopter-Borne Measurements

Holger Siebert
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Harald Franke
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Katrin Lehmann
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Rolf Maser
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Ewe Wei Saw
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Dieter Schell
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Raymond A. Shaw
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Manfred Wendisch
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Helicopter-based measurements provide an opportunity for probing the finescale dynamics and microphysics of clouds simultaneously in space and time. Due to the low true air speed compared with research aircraft, a helicopter allows for measurements with much higher spatial resolution. To circumvent the influence of the helicopter downwash the autonomous measurement payload Airborne Cloud Turbulence Observation System (ACTOS) is carried as an external cargo 140 m below the helicopter. ACTOS allows for collocated measurements of the dynamical and cloud microphysical parameters with a spatial resolution of better than 10 cm.

The interaction between turbulence and cloud microphysical processes is demonstrated using the following two cloud cases from recent helicopter measurements: i) a cumulus cloud with a low degree of turbulence and without strong vertical dynamics, and, in contrast, ii) an actively growing cloud with increased turbulence and stronger updrafts. The turbulence and microphysical measurements suggest that entrainment at the tops of these two clouds occurs by inhomogeneous and homogeneous mixing, respectively.

Leibniz- Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany

enviscope GmbH, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Department of Physics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Holger Siebert, Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany, E-mail: siebert@tropos.de

Helicopter-based measurements provide an opportunity for probing the finescale dynamics and microphysics of clouds simultaneously in space and time. Due to the low true air speed compared with research aircraft, a helicopter allows for measurements with much higher spatial resolution. To circumvent the influence of the helicopter downwash the autonomous measurement payload Airborne Cloud Turbulence Observation System (ACTOS) is carried as an external cargo 140 m below the helicopter. ACTOS allows for collocated measurements of the dynamical and cloud microphysical parameters with a spatial resolution of better than 10 cm.

The interaction between turbulence and cloud microphysical processes is demonstrated using the following two cloud cases from recent helicopter measurements: i) a cumulus cloud with a low degree of turbulence and without strong vertical dynamics, and, in contrast, ii) an actively growing cloud with increased turbulence and stronger updrafts. The turbulence and microphysical measurements suggest that entrainment at the tops of these two clouds occurs by inhomogeneous and homogeneous mixing, respectively.

Leibniz- Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany

enviscope GmbH, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

Department of Physics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Holger Siebert, Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany, E-mail: siebert@tropos.de
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