Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
17 Jun 2009
 | 17 Jun 2009

Cloud particle size distributions measured with an airborne digital in-line holographic instrument

J. P. Fugal and R. A. Shaw

Abstract. Holographic data from the prototype airborne digital holographic instrument HOLODEC (Holographic Detector for Clouds), taken during test flights are digitally reconstructed to obtain the size (equivalent diameters in the range 23 to 1000 μm), three-dimensional position, and two-dimensional image of ice particles and then ice particle size distributions and number densities are calculated using an automated algorithm with minimal user intervention. The holographic method offers the advantages of a well-defined sample volume size that is not dependent on particle size or airspeed, and offers a unique method of detecting shattered particles. The holographic method also allows the volume sample rate to be increased beyond that of the prototype HOLODEC instrument, limited solely by camera technology.

HOLODEC size distributions taken in mixed-phase regions of cloud compare well to size distributions from a PMS FSSP probe also onboard the aircraft during the test flights. A conservative algorithm for detecting shattered particles utilizing their depth-position along the optical axis eliminates the obvious ice particle shattering events from the data set. In this particular case, the size distributions of non-shattered particles are reduced by approximately a factor of two for particles 15 to 70 μm in equivalent diameter, compared to size distributions of all particles.