In this SBIR project we will develop a new compact laser-spectroscopic instrument to measure humidity in the upper troposphere under conditions favoring the formation of persistent aircraft-induced contrails and contrail-cirrus clouds. Aircraft-induced contrail-cirrus clouds account for the major share of aviation’s climate impact by way of radiative forcing. It is therefore critical to try and minimize the occurrence of contrails and contrail cirrus to reduce the climate impact of the global aviation fleet.
Our system will make active contrail-cirrus avoidance possible by the real-time measurement of the humidity state of the atmosphere and hence allow for active cirrus-contrail mitigation strategies.
The system we propose will measure atmospheric humidity using laser spectroscopy and will provide a better detection limit than presently available commercial technology. It will have low-power consumption, and will be compact enough to be a permanent asset including data downlink on commercial aircraft for continuous humidity monitoring at cruise altitude as well as during the ascent/descent profiles. To minimize the climate impact of global aviation we need aircraft equipped with our technology that fly on intercontinental routes along the busiest flight corridors.
Accurate humidity measurements are crucial for almost any scientific study of Earth’s atmosphere. A simple-to-integrate, highly compact, and maintenance free water vapor instrument for NASA aircraft campaigns would be a great asset for many scenarios. This includes satellite validation where a NASA aircraft would perform profile measurements co-located with satellite observations.
Precise, compact, and low-power trace-gas sensors – not just for humidity – are relevant in many scientific and industrial applications, e.g.
- Aircraft campaigns
- remote field sites
- industrial process control
This project will be a key step in developing a new instrument platform for a wide range of applications in existing and new markets.