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Centre for Atmospheric Science

Demonstration of an Aircraft System for Real-Time Discrimination of Cloud Ice, Cloud Water Droplets & Dust Particles.

Miniature Backscatter Cloud Probe with Depolarisation (BCP-PD)
Miniature Backscatter Cloud Probe with Depolarisation (BCP-PD)

This project aims to deliver a flight ready/validated second generation ultra-miniature backscatter cloud spectrometer capable of discriminating between water, ice and dust particles for use on commercial passenger and research aircraft, and a laboratory validated recording system. This project, in collaboration with US instrument manufacturer, Droplet Measurement Technologies, will develop a new version of an existing miniature cloud detector (called the backscatter cloud probe or BCP) that was built for the IAGOS (IN-SERVICE AIRCRAFT FOR A GLOBAL OBSERVING SYSTEM) project and successfully flown on commercial Airbus passenger aircraft for over a year. The prototype instrument (backscatter cloud probe with polarization, BCP-PD) will be based on novel polarisation detection technology now being used in larger research cloud spectrometers (e.g. DMT CAPS) operated by us on behalf of Manchester NCAS.

Comparison of new miniature instrument (BCP-PD) measurements with research cloud spectrometer (Cloud Droplet Probe, CDP)
Comparison of the new miniature instrument (BCP-PD) measurement with a research cloud spectrometer (DMT Cloud Droplet Probe).

The new instrument will be flight tested on the UK FAAM BAe 146 research aircraft. If successful future applications include, routine measurement of water/ice phase clouds on the FAAM research aircraft, replacement of current BCP in the IAGOS Airbus fleet and on UAV/UAS platforms. The prototype instrument has since successfully completed its first series of ice cloud tunnel tests in the Ottawa Icing Tunnel, Canada.