HOVERCAT: A novel aerial system for evaluation of aerosol-cloud interactions

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<p>Aerosols have a profound impact on cloud microphysics through their ability to serve as ice nucleating particles (INPs). As a result, cloud radiative properties and precipitation processes are modulated by such aerosol-cloud interactions. However, one of the largest uncertainties associated with atmospheric processes is the indirect effect of aerosols on clouds. The need for more advanced observations of INPs in the atmospheric vertical profile is apparent, yet most ice nucleation measurements are conducted at the ground or during infrequent and intensive airborne field campaigns. Here, we describe a novel measurement platform that is less expensive and smaller (<&amp;thinsp;5&amp;thinsp;kg) when compared to traditional aircraft platforms. HOVERCAT (Honing On VERtical Cloud and Aerosol properTies) flew a successful aerosol collection flight in Colorado, USA up to 2.6&amp;thinsp;km above mean sea level (1.1&amp;thinsp;km above ground level). HOVERCAT consists of the Boomerang Balloon Flight Control System that has the capability to <q>hover</q> at desired altitudes and an aerosol module that includes an optical particle counter for size distributions (0.38&amp;ndash;17&amp;thinsp;µm in diameter) and a time-resolved sampler that collects up to ten filter samples for offline ice nucleation and aerosol analyses. During the May 2017 test flight, total particle concentrations were highest closest to the ground (up to 50&amp;thinsp;cm<sup>&amp;minus;3</sup> at <&amp;thinsp;50&amp;thinsp;m above ground level) and up to 2 in 10<sup>2</sup> particles were ice nucleation active in the immersion mode (at &amp;minus;23&amp;thinsp;°C). The warmest temperature immersion and deposition mode INPs (observed up to &amp;minus;6&amp;thinsp;°C and &amp;minus;40.4&amp;thinsp;°C, respectively) were observed closest to the ground, but overall INP concentrations did not exhibit an inverse correlation with increasing altitude. HOVERCAT is a prototype that can be further modified for other airborne platforms, including tethered balloon and unmanned aerial systems. The versatility of HOVERCAT affords future opportunities to profile the atmospheric column for more routine evaluations of aerosol-cloud interactions.</p>




Creamean, J. M., Primm, K., Tolbert, M. A., Hall, E. G., Wendell, J., Jordan, A., … Schnell, R. C. (2018). HOVERCAT: A novel aerial system for evaluation of aerosol-cloud interactions. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 11(7), 3969–3985. https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-3969-2018

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