HAI, a new airborne, absolute, twin dual-channel, multi-phase TDLAS-hygrometer: background, design, setup, and first flight data
Abstract. The novel Hygrometer for Atmospheric Investigation (HAI) realizes a unique concept for simultaneous gas-phase and total (gas-phase + evaporated cloud particles) water measurements. It has been developed and successfully deployed for the first time on the German HALO research aircraft. This new instrument combines direct tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (dTDLAS) with a first-principle evaluation method to allow absolute water vapor measurements without any initial or repetitive sensor calibration using a reference gas or a reference humidity generator. HAI contains two completely independent dual-channel (closed-path, open-path) spectrometers, one at 1.4 and one at 2.6 µm, which together allow us to cover the entire atmospheric H2O range from 1 to 40 000 ppmv with a single instrument. Both spectrometers each comprise a separate, wavelength-individual extractive, closed-path cell for total water (ice and gas-phase) measurements. Additionally, both spectrometers couple light into a common open-path cell outside of the aircraft fuselage for a direct, sampling-free, and contactless determination of the gas-phase water content. This novel twin dual-channel setup allows for the first time multiple self-validation functions, in particular a reliable, direct, in-flight validation of the open-path channels. During the first field campaigns, the in-flight deviations between the independent and calibration-free channels (i.e., closed-path to closed-path and open-path to closed-path) were on average in the 2 % range. Further, the fully autonomous HAI hygrometer allows measurements up to 240 Hz with a minimal integration time of 1.4 ms. The best precision is achieved by the 1.4 µm closed-path cell at 3.8 Hz (0.18 ppmv) and by the 2.6 µm closed-path cell at 13 Hz (0.055 ppmv). The requirements, design, operation principle, and first in-flight performance of the hygrometer are described and discussed in this work.