Characterisation and airborne deployment of a new counterflow virtual impactor inlet

T. Shingler, S. Dey, A. Sorooshian, F. J. Brechtel, Z. Wang, A. Metcalf, M. Coggon, J. Mülmenstädt, L. M. Russell, H. H. Jonsson, J. H. Seinfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1259-1269
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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