Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-495
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-495

  21 Jan 2021

21 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Characterizing the performance of a POPS miniaturized optical particle counter when operated on a quadcopter drone

Zixia Liu1, Martin Osborne1,2, Jim Haywood1,2, Karen Anderson3, Jamie D. Shulter3, Andy Wilson2, Justin Langridge2, Steve H. L. Yim4,5,6, Hugh Coe7, Suresh Babu8, Sreedharan K. Satheesh9, Paquita Zuidema10, Tao Huang4, and Jack C. H. Cheng4 Zixia Liu et al.
  • 1College of Engineering Mathematics, and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK
  • 2Met Office, Fitzroy Road, Exeter, Devon, UK
  • 3College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall, UK
  • 4Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 5Stanley Ho Big Data Decision Analytics Research Centre, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 6Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 7Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  • 8Space Physics Laboratory, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Trivandrum, 695 022, India
  • 9Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India
  • 10Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA

Abstract. The Printed Optical Particle Spectrometer (POPS) is an advanced and small low-cost, light-weight, and high-sensitivity optical particle counter (OPC), particularly designed for deployed on unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) and balloon sondes. We report the performance of the POPS against a reference scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and an airborne passive cavity aerosol spectrometer probe (PCASP) while the POPS is operated on the ground and also while operated on a quadcopter drone, a DJI Matrice 200 V2. This is the first such documented test of the performance of a POPS instrument on a UAV. We investigate the root mean square difference (RMSD) and mean absolute difference (MAD) in particle number concentrations (PNCs) when operating on the ground and on the Matrice 200. When windspeeds are less than 2.6 m/s, we find only modest differences in the RMSDs and MADs of 2.4 % and 2.3 % respectively when operating on the ground, and to 5 % and 3 % when operating at 10m altitude. When windspeeds are greater than 2.6 m/s but less than 7.7 m/s the RMSDs and MADs increase to 10.2 % and 7.8 % respectively when operating on the ground, and 26.2 % and 19.1 %, respectively when operating at 10m altitude. No statistical difference in PNCs was detected when operating on the UAV in either ascent or descent. We also find size distributions of aerosols in the accumulation mode (here defined by diameter, d, where 0.1 ≤ d ≤ 1 µm) are relatively consistent between measurements at the surface and measurements at 10m altitude with RMSD and MAD of less than 21.6 % and 15.7 %, respectively. However, the differences between coarse mode (here defined by d > 1 µm) are universally larger than those measured at the surface with a RMSD and MAD approaching 49.5 % and 40.4 %. Our results suggest that the impact of the UAV rotors on the POPS does not unduly affect the performance of the POPS for wind speed less than 2.6 m/s, but when operating under higher wind speed of up to 7.6 m/s, larger discrepancies are noted. In addition to this, it appears that the POPS measures sub-micron aerosol particles more accurately than super-micron aerosol particles when airborne on the UAV. These measurements lay the foundations for determining the magnitude of potential errors that might be introduced into measured aerosol particle size distributions and concentrations owing to the turbulence created by the rotors on the UAV.

Zixia Liu et al.

Status: open (until 18 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2020-495', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Jan 2021 reply

Zixia Liu et al.

Zixia Liu et al.

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Short summary
This paper shows the performance of an advanced aerosol observation instrument (POPS) on a quadcopter drone. The results suggest that the impact of the UAV rotors on the POPS does not unduly affect the performance of the POPS for wind speed less than 2.6 m/s, but when operating under higher wind speed of up to 7.6 m/s, larger discrepancies are noted. Plus, it appears that the POPS measures sub-micron aerosol particles more accurately than super-micron aerosol particles on the drone.