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Open AccessArticle

A Drone-Based Bioaerosol Sampling System to Monitor Ice Nucleation Particles in the Lower Atmosphere

Institute of Materials Chemistry, TU Wien, 1060 Vienna, Austria
Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, TU Wien, 1060 Vienna, Austria
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0390, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(3), 552;
Received: 20 December 2019 / Revised: 31 January 2020 / Accepted: 5 February 2020 / Published: 7 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unmanned Aerial Systems for Surface Hydrology)
Terrestrial ecosystems can influence atmospheric processes by contributing a huge variety of biological aerosols (bioaerosols) to the environment. Several types of biological particles, such as pollen grains, fungal spores, and bacteria cells, trigger freezing processes in super-cooled cloud droplets, and as such can contribute to the hydrological cycle. Even though biogenic particles are known as the most active form of ice nucleation particles (INPs), the transport to high tropospheric altitudes, as well as the occurrence in clouds, remains understudied. Thus, transport processes from the land surface into the atmosphere need to be investigated to estimate weather phenomena and climate trends. To help fill this knowledge gap, we developed a drone-based aerosol particles sampling impinger/impactor (DAPSI) system for field studies to investigate sources and near surface transport of biological INPs. DAPSI was designed to attach to commercial rotary-wing drones to collect biological particles within about 100 m of the Earth’s surface. DAPSI provides information on particulate matter concentrations (PM10 & PM2.5), temperature, relative humidity, and air pressure at about 0.5 Hz, by controlling electrical sensors with an onboard computer (Raspberry Pi 3). Two remote-operated sampling systems (impinging and impacting) were integrated into DAPSI. Laboratory tests of the impinging system showed a 96% sampling efficiency for standardized aerosol particles (2 µm polystyrene latex spheres) and 84% for an aerosol containing biological INPs (Betula pendula). A series of sampling missions (12 flights) were performed using two Phantom 4 quadcopters with DAPSI onboard at a remote sampling site near Gosau, Austria. Fluorescence microscopy of impactor foils showed a significant number of auto-fluorescent particles < 0.5 µm at an excitation of 465–495 nm and an emission of 515–555 nm. A slight increase in ice nucleation activity (onset temperature between −27 °C and −31 °C) of sampled aerosol was measured by applying freezing experiments with a microscopic cooling technique. There are a number of unique opportunities for DAPSI to be used to study the transport of bioaerosols, particularly for investigations of biological INP emissions from natural sources such as birch or pine forests. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioaerosol; impinger; impactor; fluorescence; ice nucleation; INPs; sUAS; hydrological cycle bioaerosol; impinger; impactor; fluorescence; ice nucleation; INPs; sUAS; hydrological cycle
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    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3588399
MDPI and ACS Style

Bieber, P.; Seifried, T.M.; Burkart, J.; Gratzl, J.; Kasper-Giebl, A.; Schmale, D.G., III; Grothe, H. A Drone-Based Bioaerosol Sampling System to Monitor Ice Nucleation Particles in the Lower Atmosphere. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 552.

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