Articles | Volume 8, issue 10
Research article
15 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 15 Oct 2015

Quantitative evaluation of seven optical sensors for cloud microphysical measurements at the Puy-de-Dôme Observatory, France

G. Guyot, C. Gourbeyre, G. Febvre, V. Shcherbakov, F. Burnet, J.-C. Dupont, K. Sellegri, and O. Jourdan

Abstract. Clouds have an important role in Earth's radiative budget. Since the late 1970s, considerable instrumental developments have been made in order to quantify cloud microphysical and optical properties, for both airborne and ground-based applications. Intercomparison studies have been carried out in the past to assess the reliability of cloud microphysical properties inferred from various measurement techniques. However, observational uncertainties still exist, especially for droplet size distribution measurements and need to be reduced.

In this work, we discuss results from an intercomparison campaign, performed at the Puy de Dôme in May 2013. During this campaign, a unique set of cloud instruments was operating simultaneously in ambient air conditions and in a wind tunnel. A Particle Volume Monitor (PVM-100), a Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe (FSSP), a Fog Monitor (FM-100), and a Present Weather Detector (PWD) were sampling on the roof of the station. Within a wind tunnel located underneath the roof, two Cloud Droplet Probes (CDPs) and a modified FSSP (SPP-100) were operating. The main objectives of this paper are (1) to study the effects of wind direction and speed on ground-based cloud observations, (2) to quantify the cloud parameters discrepancies observed by the different instruments, and (3) to develop methods to improve the quantification of the measurements.

The results revealed that all instruments showed a good agreement in their sizing abilities, both in terms of amplitude and variability. However, some of them, especially the FM-100, the FSSP and the SPP, displayed large discrepancies in their capability to assess the magnitude of the total number concentration of the cloud droplets. As a result, the total liquid water content can differ by up to a factor of 5 between the probes. The use of a standardization procedure, based on data of integrating probes (PVM-100 or visibilimeter) and extinction coefficient comparison substantially enhanced the instrumental agreement. During this experiment, the total concentration agreed in variations with the visibilimeter, except for the FSSP, so a corrective factor can be applied and it ranges from 0.44 to 2.2. This intercomparison study highlights the necessity to have an instrument which provides a bulk measurement of cloud microphysical or optical properties during cloud ground-based campaigns. Moreover, the FM and FSSP orientation was modified with an angle ranging from 30 to 90° angle with wind speeds from 3 to 7 m s−1. The results show that the induced number concentration loss is between 29 and 98 % for the FSSP and between 15 and 68 % for the FM-100. In particular, FSSP experiments showed strong discrepancies when the wind speed was lower than 3 m s−1 and/or when the angle between the wind direction and the orientation of the instruments is greater than 30°. An inadequate orientation of the FSSP towards the wind direction leads to an underestimation of the measured effective diameter.