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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-70
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-70
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Mar 2019

Research article | 11 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

The Universal Cloud and Aerosol Sounding System (UCASS): a low-cost miniature optical particle counter for use in dropsonde or balloon-borne sounding systems

Helen R. Smith1, Zbigniew Ulanowski1, Paul H. Kaye1, Edwin Hirst1, Warren Stanley1, Richard Kaye1, Chris Stopford1, Andreas Wieser2, Maria Kezoudi1, Joseph Girdwood1, and Richard Greenaway1 Helen R. Smith et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric and Climate Physics, School of Physics, Astronomy and Maths, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9AB
  • 2Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), 76021 Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. A low-cost miniaturized particle counter has been developed by The University of Hertfordshire (UH) for the measurement of aerosol/droplet concentrations and size distributions. The Universal Cloud and Aerosol Sounding System (UCASS)is an Optical Particle Counter (OPC), which uses wide-angle elastic light scattering for the high precision sizing of fluid-borne particulates. The UCASS has up to 16 configurable size bins, capable of sizing particles in the range 0.4–40 micrometer in diameter. Unlike traditional particle counters, the UCASS is an open-geometry system which relies on an external air flow. Therefore the instrument is suited for use as part of a dropsonde, balloon-borne sounding system, as part of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or on any measurement platform with a known air flow. Data can be logged autonomously using an on-board SD card,or the device can be interfaced with commercially available meteorological sondes to transmit data in real time. The device has been deployed on various research platforms to take measurements of both droplets and dry aerosol particles. Comparative results with co-located instrumentation in both laboratory and field settings are used to assess the performance of the UCASS.

Helen R. Smith et al.
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Short summary
The Universal Cloud and Aerosol Sounding System (UCASS) is a low-cost miniature Optical Particle Counter (OPC) capable of sizing particles in the size range 0.4-40microns. The open geometry design makes the instrument suitable for deployment on balloon-borne sounding systems, dropsonde systems or as part of a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Laboratory and field experiments show good agreement to reference instruments in a range of cloudy and dusty environments.
The Universal Cloud and Aerosol Sounding System (UCASS) is a low-cost miniature Optical Particle...
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