Aircraft measurements of high average charges on cloud drops in layer clouds

TitleAircraft measurements of high average charges on cloud drops in layer clouds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsBeard, K. V., H. T. Ochs, and C. H. Twohy
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume31
Pagination4
KeywordsCOUNTERFLOW VIRTUAL IMPACTOR ICE-FORMING NUCLEI CONDENSATION NUCLEI ELECTRIFICATION DROPLETS SIZE COALESCENCE EFFICIENCY PARTICLES
Abstract

The first reliable aircraft measurements of characteristic cloud drop charges were obtained by utilizing a counterflow virtual impactor to substantially increase charge sensitivity and eliminate spurious contact charging that contaminated previous aircraft measurements. We find average drop charges more than an order of magnitude larger than expected from mountain surface measurements in similar clouds. Our evaluation of the data indicates that the high average charges on cloud drops originate in charge layers at the cloud boundaries and are carried into the cloud layer by vertical motions. These initial aircraft results demonstrate that cloud drop charges in layer clouds may be high enough to influence microphysical processes that promote precipitation.