Airborne Meteorology

Airborne Science Instrumentation (MASIN)

The British Antarctic Survey has a Twin Otter aircraft with a certified fit of airborne atmospheric instrumentation suitable for atmospheric, boundary layer and cloud/aerosol studies.

The Twin Otter aircraft is a very adaptable platform used the world over as a ‘bush’ aircraft. Its twin turbo-prop engines and ‘Short Take off and Landing’ (STOL) capability allow it to be used from small, remote unpaved airfields and the addition of skis or tundra tyres also allows operation on snow and from remote camps.

A BAS Twin Otter on MASIN (Meteorological Airborne Survey Instrumentation) trials in Calgary 2004. CAPS probe; Cloud, Aerosol and Precipitation Spectrometer.
This image is associated with 2005-2010 BAS science programme: ACES – Antarctic Climate and the Earth System.

The aircraft can be operated single pilot and a long range fuel tank is also available. Double cargo doors provide good access for installing instrument racks.

In general the aircraft works in the Antarctic from October through to March each year depending on projects. The first Arctic project is scheduled to be with the NERC ACCACIA consortium grant starting from Svalbard in February 2013.

The instrument suite includes standard temperature and water vapour sensors as well as a turbulence probe allowing full atmospheric profile measurements of temperature, dew point and winds.

The fast turbulence probe also facilitates sensible heat flux measurements by the eddy covariance method. These boundary layer measurement capabilities are complemented by incoming and outgoing radiation instruments and a downward looking infra-red thermometer.

The floor hatch opening can also accommodate a fixed laser range finder or scanning laser which has been used for measuring ice floe topography. The required GPS and attitude measurements to support this are available. Video and digital SLR cameras can also be fitted here. The camera bay can also be configured to drop airborne deployable buoys.

Hard points and pylons are available on each wing. A DMT Cloud and aerosol spectrometer (CAPS) probe is used for cloud studies. Other standard PMS pod instruments can easily be accommodated. We also run a closed path Licor H2O/CO2 instrument, Grimm optical particle counter and cloud condensation nuclei counter fed from simple Rosemount inlets but we are in the process of fitting a Brectel Isokinetic inlet. These inlets provide the possibility of further aerosol instruments.

Twin otter landing on the Dyer Plateau

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