The Behavior of the Snow White Chilled-Mirror Hygrometer in Extremely Dry Conditions

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Vömel, H. ; Fujiwara, M. ; Shiotani, M. ; Hasebe, F. ; Oltmans, S. J. ; Barnes, J. E. (2003)
  • Publisher: American Meteorological Society
  • Journal: Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, volume 20, issue 11, pages 1,560-1,567 (issn: 0739-0572)

The Snow White hygrometer, made by Meteolabor AG, Switzerland, is a new chilled-mirror instrument using a thermoelectric Peltier cooler to measure atmospheric water vapor. Its performance under dry conditions is evaluated in simultaneous measurements using the NOAA/CMDL frost-point hygrometer at Boulder, Colorado; San Cristo´bal, Gala´pagos Islands, Ecuador; Watukosek, Indonesia; and Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The Snow White exhibits a lower detection limit of about 3%–6% relative humidity, depending on the sensor configuration. This detection limit is determined by the temperature depression attainable by the thermoelectric cooler. In some cases, loss of frost-point control within layers with relative humidity below this detection limit caused inaccurate measurements above these dry layers, where the relative humidity was within the detection range of the instrument. The sensor does not operate in the stratosphere because of the large frost-point depression and the large potential for outgassing of water from the instrument box and the sensor housing. The instrument has some capabilities in the tropical tropopause region; however, the results are somewhat mixed.
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