Satellites provide valuable data for cloud, precipitation, and radiative transfer research. Supporting in-situ atmospheric measurements of cloud properties are essential. While research aircraft carry the best in-situ instruments, the aircraft and instruments are too expensive to provide sufficient coverage. Anasphere is developing a suite of low-cost, balloon-borne instruments that can quantify all three condensed phases of water in clouds: supercooled liquid, liquid, and ice. The first two instruments have been developed and are used around the world.
In Phase I, an ice water content (IWC) sensor was developed and demonstrated in Anasphere’s icing wind tunnel. The new sensor actually proved to be a total condensed-phase water content sensor, and a universal sonde including this sensor and an existing supercooled liquid water sensor is envisioned which can be used to quantify all phases of condensed water in clouds, and most importantly can separately determine both supercooled liquid water content and IWC in mixed-phase clouds. It can also measure IWC in glaciated clouds and liquid water in above-freezing clouds.
In Phase II, the dual-sensor universal sonde will be developed, tested under a wide range of conditions in the icing wind tunnel including mixed-phase conditions, and flown on an extensive test flight program.
The sensor will provide in-situ measurement support for one of the five foundational observations designated in the most recent Decadal Survey, namely Clouds, Convection, and Precipitation. With regard to radiative transfer, NASA applications may be found in the Earth Observing System and the Radiation Sciences Program. The instruments, by virtue of being inexpensive balloon-borne payloads, will enable greater spatial and temporal coverage in support of validation and verification efforts related to these programs.
Other agencies engaged in cloud and radiative transfer research will be key beneficiaries of this technology, including the Department of Energy, NOAA, and NCAR.