Associated content: 

Cloud Radar System

Clouds are a key element in the global hydrological cycle, and they have a significant role in the Earth’s energy budget through its influence on radiation budgets. Climate model simulations have demonstrated the importance of clouds in moderating and forcing the global energy budget. Despite the crucial role of clouds in climate and the breadth of our current knowledge, there are still many unanswered details. An improved understanding of the radiative impact of clouds on the climate system requires a comprehensive view of clouds that includes their physical dimensions, vertical and horizontal spatial distribution, detailed microphysical properties, and the dynamical processes producing them. However, the lack of fine-scale cloud data is apparent in current climate model simulations.

The Cloud Radar System (CRS) is a fully coherent, polarimeteric Doppler radar that is capable of detecting clouds and precipitation from the surface up to the aircraft altitude in the lower stratosphere. The radar is especially well suited for cirrus cloud studies because of its high sensitivity and fine spatial resolution.

Instrument Type: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Cloud Physics Lidar

The Cloud Physics Lidar, or CPL, is a backscatter lidar designed to operate simultaneously at 3 wavelengths: 1064, 532, and 355 nm. The purpose of the CPL is to provide multi-wavelength measurements of cirrus, subvisual cirrus, and aerosols with high temporal and spatial resolution. Figure 1 shows the entire CPL package in flight configuration. The CPL utilizes state-of-the-art technology with a high repetition rate, low pulse energy laser and photon-counting detection. Vertical resolution of the CPL measurements is fixed at 30 m; horizontal resolution can vary but is typically about 200 m. The CPL fundamentally measures range-resolved profiles of volume 180-degree backscatter coefficients. From the fundamental measurement, various data products are derived, including: time-height crosssection images; cloud and aerosol layer boundaries; optical depth for clouds, aerosol layers, and planetary boundary layer (PBL); and extinction profiles. The CPL was designed to fly on the NASA ER-2 aircraft but is adaptable to other platforms. Because the ER-2 typically flies at about 65,000 feet (20 km), onboard instruments are above 94% of the earth’s atmosphere, allowing ER-2 instruments to function as spaceborne instrument simulators. The ER-2 provides a unique platform for atmospheric profiling, particularly for active remote sensing instruments such as lidar, because the spatial coverage attainable by the ER-2 permits studies of aerosol properties across wide regions. Lidar profiling from the ER-2 platform is especially valuable because the cloud height structure, up to the limit of signal attenuation, is unambiguously measured.

Instrument Type: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Diode Laser Hygrometer

The DLH has been successfully flown during many previous field campaigns on several aircraft, most recently ACTIVATE (Falcon); FIREX-AQ, ATom, KORUS-AQ, and SEAC4RS (DC-8); POSIDON (WB-57); CARAFE (Sherpa); CAMP2Ex and DISCOVER-AQ (P-3); and ATTREX (Global Hawk). This sensor measures water vapor (H2O(v)) via absorption by one of three strong, isolated spectral lines near 1.4 μm and is comprised of a compact laser transceiver and a sheet of high grade retroflecting road sign material to form the optical path. Optical sampling geometry is aircraft-dependent, as each DLH instrument is custom-built to conform to aircraft geometric constraints. Using differential absorption detection techniques, H2O(v) is sensed along the external path negating any potential wall or inlet effects inherent in extractive sampling techniques. A laser power normalization scheme enables the sensor to accurately measure water vapor even when flying through clouds. An algorithm calculates H2O(v) concentration based on the differential absorption signal magnitude, ambient pressure, and temperature, and spectroscopic parameters found in the literature and/or measured in the laboratory. Preliminary water vapor mixing ratio and derived relative humidities are provided in real-time to investigators.

Instrument Type: 
Measurements: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

ER-2 Doppler Radar

EDOP is an X-band (9.6 GHz) Doppler radar nose-mounted in the ER-2. The instrument has two antennas: one nadir-pointing with pitch stabilization, and the other forward pointing. The general objectives of EDOP are the measurement of the vertical structure of precipitation and air motions in mesoscale precipitation systems and the development of spaceborne radar algorithms for precipitation estimation.

EDOP measures high-resolution time-height sections of reflectivity and vertical hydrometeor velocity (and vertical air motion when the hydrometeor fall speed and aircraft motions are removed). An additional capability on the forward beam permits measurement of the linear depolarization ratio (LDR) which provides useful information on orientation of the hydrometeors (i.e., the canting angle), hydrometeor phase, size, etc. The dual beam geometry has advantages over a single beam. For example, along-track horizontal air motions can be calculated by using the displacement of the ER-2 to provide dual Doppler velocities (i.e., forward and nadir beams) at a particular altitude.

EDOP is designed as a turn-key system with real-time processing on-board the aircraft. The RF system consists of a coherent frequency synthesizer which generates the transmitted and local oscillator frequencies used in the system, a pulse modulated (0.5 to 2.0 micro-second pulse) high gain 20 kW Traveling Wave Tube Amplifier which is coupled through the duplexer to the antenna, and the receiver which is comprised of a low-noise (~1dB) GaAs preamplifier followed by a mixer for each of the receive channels. The composite system generates a nadir oriented beam with a co-polarized receiver and a 350 forward directed beam with co- and cross- polarized receivers. The antenna design consists of two separate offset-fed parabolic antennas, with high polarization isolation feed horns, mounted in the nose radome of the ER-2. The antennas are 0.76 m diameter resulting in a 30 beamwidth and a spot size of about 1.2 km at the surface (assuming a 20 km aircraft altitude). The two beams operate simultaneously from a single transmitter.

Instrument Type: 
Aircraft: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Conical Scanning Millimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer

CoSMIR is an airborne, 9-channel total power radiometer that was originally developed for the calibration/validation of the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager/ Sounder (SSMIS), a new-generation conical scanning radiometer for the DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Project) F-series satellites. When first completed in 2003, the system has four receivers near 50, 91, 150 and 183 GHz, that measure horizontally polarized radiation at the frequencies of 50.3, 52.8, 53.6, 150, 183.3±1, 183.3±3, and 183.3±6.6 GHz, and dual polarized radiation at 91.665 GHz from on board the high-flying NASA ER-2 aircraft. All receivers and radiometer electronics are housed in a small cylindrical scan head (21.5 cm in diameter and 28 cm in length) that is rotated by a two-axis gimbaled mechanism capable of generating a wide variety of scan profiles. Two calibration targets, one maintained at ambient (cold) temperature and another heated to a hot temperature of about 328 K, are closely coupled to the scan head and rotate with it about the azimuth axis. Radiometric signals from each channel are sampled at 0.01 sec intervals. These signals and housekeeping data are fed to the main computer in an external electronics box.

CoSMIR has been flown only for calibration/validation of the SSMIS during years 2004-2005 off the coastal areas of California. Currently, it is being modified to play the role as an airborne high-frequency simulator for the GMI, which requires changes in both frequency and polarization for some channels. After modification, the 9 channels will be at the frequencies of 50.3, 52.6, 89 (H & V), 165.5 (H & V), 183.3±1, 183.3±3, and 183.3±7 GHz. All channels besides 89 and 165.5 GHz will be horizontally polarized. The modified CoSMIR will fly in a GPM–related field campaign in Oklahoma during April-May 2011.

Instrument Type: 
Measurements: 
Aircraft: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer

The AMPR is a total power passive microwave radiometer producing calibrated brightness temperatures (TB) at 10.7, 19.35, 37.1, and 85.5 GHz. These frequencies are sensitive to the emission and scattering of precipitation-size ice, liquid water, and water vapor. The AMPR performs a 90º cross-track data scan perpendicular to the direction of aircraft motion. It processes a linear polarization feed with full vertical polarization at -45º and full horizontal polarization at +45º, with the polarization across the scan mixed as a function of sin2, giving an equal V-H mixture at 0º (aircraft nadir). A full calibration is made every fifth scan using hot and cold blackbodies. From a typical ER-2 flight altitude of ~20 km, surface footprint sizes range from 640 m (85.5 GHz) to 2.8 km (10.7 GHz). All four channels share a common measurement grid with collocated footprint centers, resulting in over-sampling of the low frequency channels with respect to 85.5 GHz.

Instrument Type: 
Measurements: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

2D-S Stereo Probe

The 2D-S Stereo Probe is an optical imaging instrument that obtains stereo cloud particle images and concentrations using linear array shadowing. Two diode laser beams cross at right angles and illuminate two linear 128-photodiode arrays. The lasers are single-mode, temperature-stabilized, fiber-coupled diode lasers operating at 45 mW. The optical paths are arbitrarily labeled the “vertical” and “horizontal” probe channels, but the verticality of each channel actually depends on how the probe is oriented on an aircraft. The imaging optical system is based on a Keplerian telescope design having a (theoretical) primary system magnification of 5X, which results in a theoretical effective size of (42.5 µm + 15 µm)/5 = 11.5 µm. However, actual lenses and arrays have tolerances, so it is preferable to measure the actual effective pixel size by dropping several thousands of glass beads with known diameters through the object plane of the optics system.

Instrument Type: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - IMPACTS