Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
Research article
13 Mar 2015
Research article |  | 13 Mar 2015

Evaluation of the MOZAIC Capacitive Hygrometer during the airborne field study CIRRUS-III

P. Neis, H. G. J. Smit, M. Krämer, N. Spelten, and A. Petzold

Abstract. The MOZAIC Capacitive Hygrometer (MCH) is usually operated aboard passenger aircraft in the framework of MOZAIC (Measurement of Ozone by Airbus In-Service Aircraft) for measuring atmospheric relative humidity (RH). In order to evaluate the performance of the MCH, the instrument was operated aboard a Learjet 35A research aircraft as part of the CIRRUS-III field study together with a closed-cell Lyman-α fluorescence hygrometer (Fast in situ Stratospheric Hygrometer, or FISH) and an open-path tunable diode laser system (Open-path Jülich Stratospheric TDL ExpeRiment, or OJSTER) for water vapour measurement. After reducing the CIRRUS-III data set to data corresponding to MOZAIC aircraft operation conditions, the 1 Hz RH data cross correlation between the MCH and reference instruments FISH (clear sky) and OJSTER (in-cirrus) yielded a remarkably good agreement of R2 = 0.92 and slope m = 1.02 and provided a MCH uncertainty of 5% RH. Probability distribution functions of RH deduced from the MCH and reference instruments agreed well between 10 and 70% RH with respect to liquid water in the ambient temperature range of ca. −70 to −40 °C. The use of MCH data is limited to sensor temperatures above the calibration limit of Tsensor = −40 °C (corresponds to ambient temperature of Tambient = −70 °C at typical cruising speed of long-haul passenger aircraft). Good performance of the MCH for clear sky as well as for in-cirrus conditions demonstrated the sensor robustness also for operation inside ice clouds.