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Published June 6, 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Characterisation and airborne deployment of a new counterflow virtual impactor inlet


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.

Additional Information

© 2012 the Author(s). This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Received: 29 January 2012; Published in Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss.: 14 February 2012; Revised: 6 May 2012; Accepted: 16 May 2012; Published: 6 June 2012. This work was funded by an ONR DURIP grant (N00014-11-1-0783), an ONR YIP award (N00014-10-1- 0811), ONR grant N00014-10-1-0200, NSF grants AGS-1008848 and AGS1013423, and Sea Spray Research, Inc. The authors acknowledge Cynthia Twohy and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments. The authors gratefully acknowledge the crew of both the CIRPAS Twin Otter and the R/V Point Sur. Edited by: D. Toohey

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