Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
Research article
27 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 27 Jan 2014

A fiber-coupled laser hygrometer for airborne total water measurement

S. W. Dorsi, L. E. Kalnajs, D. W. Toohey, and L. M. Avallone

Abstract. The second-generation University of Colorado closed-path tunable-diode laser hygrometer (CLH-2) is an instrument for the airborne in situ measurement of total water content – the sum of vapor-, liquid- and ice-phase water – in clouds. This compact instrument has been flown on the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream-V aircraft in an underwing canister. It operates autonomously and uses fiber-coupled optics to eliminate the need for a supply of dry compressed gas. In operation, sample air is ingested into a forward-facing sub-isokinetic inlet; this sampling configuration results in particle concentrations that are enhanced relative to ambient and causes greater instrument sensitivity to condensed water particles. Heaters within the inlet vaporize the ingested water particles, and the resulting augmented water vapor mixing ratio is measured by absorption of near-infrared light in a single-pass optical cell. The condensed water content is then determined by subtracting the ambient water vapor content from the total and by accounting for the inertial enhancement of particles into the sampling inlet. The CLH-2 is calibrated in the laboratory over a range of pressures and water vapor mixing ratios; the uncertainty in CLH-2 condensed water retrievals is estimated to be 14.3% to 16.1% (1-σ). A vapor-only laboratory intercomparison with the first-generation University of Colorado closed-path tunable-diode laser hygrometer (CLH) shows agreement within the 2-σ uncertainty bounds of both instruments.