Bringing together more than 60 researchers from 20 institutions from a dozen countries, the EU-funded BACCHUS project looked to investigate how aerosols were effecting ice crystals in clouds by using instrument-bearing drones.
Aerosols, which occur from human activities or naturally, were analyzed in key regions that regulate the Earth’s climate. According to CORDIS, “ice clouds precipitate more readily and influence the radiation budget more than water clouds. This balance between radiation from the Sun and what the Earth radiates back is an important equation in climate-change modelling.”
The project used drones carrying temperature, humidity, and aerosol sensors. Flying a few kilometers in the air, the drones enabled readings that better represented the atmospheric conditions of the clouds’ ice formations, reported by CORDIS, compared to ground-based measurements. It was also the first time drones were utilized for this particular type of vertical profiling, according to CORDIS.
Along with drones, the team used larger research vessels and aircraft, and satellite remote-sensing data from the ground.
“You get only a few measurement points using aircraft,” says Project Coordinator Professor Ulrike Lohmann, professor for Atmospheric Physics at the Institute for Atmosphere and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, “Drones are light and highly flexible. They can also facilitate more frequent cloud measurements in different locations around the world, particularly remote regions where data is missing.”
The drones first flew over a region in Cyprus, and sent that data into a custom database for ice clouds.
“There are databases for aerosols, and databases for all meteorological variables, but a database for ice-nucleating particles did not exist. We built it from scratch,” says Professor Lohmann.
Overall, the BACCHUS database will include information dating back to 1300 AD.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense