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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2583-2599, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
03 May 2018
Vertical wind velocity measurements using a five-hole probe with remotely piloted aircraft to study aerosol–cloud interactions
Radiance Calmer1, Gregory C. Roberts1,2, Jana Preissler3, Kevin J. Sanchez1,2, Solène Derrien4, and Colin O'Dowd3 1Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques (CNRM), UMR 3589, Météo-France/CNRS, Toulouse, France
2Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
3School of Physics and Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
4Laboratoire d'Aérologie, University of Toulouse, CNRS, Toulouse, France
Abstract. The importance of vertical wind velocities (in particular positive vertical wind velocities or updrafts) in atmospheric science has motivated the need to deploy multi-hole probes developed for manned aircraft in small remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). In atmospheric research, lightweight RPAs ( <  2.5 kg) are now able to accurately measure atmospheric wind vectors, even in a cloud, which provides essential observing tools for understanding aerosol–cloud interactions. The European project BACCHUS (impact of Biogenic versus Anthropogenic emissions on Clouds and Climate: towards a Holistic UnderStanding) focuses on these specific interactions. In particular, vertical wind velocity at cloud base is a key parameter for studying aerosol–cloud interactions. To measure the three components of wind, a RPA is equipped with a five-hole probe, pressure sensors, and an inertial navigation system (INS). The five-hole probe is calibrated on a multi-axis platform, and the probe–INS system is validated in a wind tunnel. Once mounted on a RPA, power spectral density (PSD) functions and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) derived from the five-hole probe are compared with sonic anemometers on a meteorological mast. During a BACCHUS field campaign at Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station (Ireland), a fleet of RPAs was deployed to profile the atmosphere and complement ground-based and satellite observations of physical and chemical properties of aerosols, clouds, and meteorological state parameters. The five-hole probe was flown on straight-and-level legs to measure vertical wind velocities within clouds. The vertical velocity measurements from the RPA are validated with vertical velocities derived from a ground-based cloud radar by showing that both measurements yield model-simulated cloud droplet number concentrations within 10 %. The updraft velocity distributions illustrate distinct relationships between vertical cloud fields in different meteorological conditions.
Citation: Calmer, R., Roberts, G. C., Preissler, J., Sanchez, K. J., Derrien, S., and O'Dowd, C.: Vertical wind velocity measurements using a five-hole probe with remotely piloted aircraft to study aerosol–cloud interactions, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2583-2599,, 2018.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly called UAVs, are used in atmospheric science for in situ measurements. The presented work shows wind measurements from a five-hole probe on an RPAS. Comparisons with other instruments (sonic anemometer and cloud radar) show good agreement, validating the RPAS measurements. In situ vertical wind measurements at cloud base are highlighted because they are a major parameter needed for simulating aerosol–cloud interactions, though rarely collected.
Remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly called UAVs, are used in atmospheric science...