Articles | Volume 5, issue 6
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 1259–1269, 2012
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 1259–1269, 2012

Research article 06 Jun 2012

Research article | 06 Jun 2012

Characterisation and airborne deployment of a new counterflow virtual impactor inlet

T. Shingler1, S. Dey2, A. Sorooshian1,3, F. J. Brechtel2, Z. Wang1, A. Metcalf4, M. Coggon4, J. Mülmenstädt5, L. M. Russell5, H. H. Jonsson6, and J. H. Seinfeld4 T. Shingler et al.
  • 1Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210011, Tucson, Arizona, 85721, USA
  • 2Brechtel Manufacturing Inc., Hayward, 94544, California, USA
  • 3Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210081, Tucson, Arizona, 85721, USA
  • 4Departments of Environmental Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
  • 5Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  • 6Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, USA

Abstract. A new counterflow virtual impactor (CVI) inlet is introduced with details of its design, laboratory characterisation tests and deployment on an aircraft during the 2011 Eastern Pacific Emitted Aerosol Cloud Experiment (E-PEACE). The CVI inlet addresses three key issues in previous designs; in particular, the inlet operates with: (i) negligible organic contamination; (ii) a significant sample flow rate to downstream instruments (∼15 l min−1) that reduces the need for dilution; and (iii) a high level of accessibility to the probe interior for cleaning. Wind tunnel experiments characterised the cut size of sampled droplets and the particle size-dependent transmission efficiency in various parts of the probe. For a range of counter-flow rates and air velocities, the measured cut size was between 8.7–13.1 μm. The mean percentage error between cut size measurements and predictions from aerodynamic drag theory is 1.7%. The CVI was deployed on the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Twin Otter for thirty flights during E-PEACE to study aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions off the central coast of California in July and August 2011. Results are reported to assess the performance of the inlet including comparisons of particle number concentration downstream of the CVI and cloud drop number concentration measured by two independent aircraft probes. Measurements downstream of the CVI are also examined from one representative case flight coordinated with shipboard-emitted smoke that was intercepted in cloud by the Twin Otter.