M.I.C.C. Manchester Ice Cloud Chamber
Facility Description The cold room facility in the Simon Building of The University of Manchester, England, houses one of the tallest cloud chambers in Europe at a height of 10 m.  The 1 m diameter fall tube spans 3 floors and can reach temperatures as low as -50°C.  The chamber can also be pressure sealed and evacuated to simulate conditions found in the upper troposphere.  More quick facts about the chamber can be seen by moving over the white dots in the figure on the left. Liquid Clouds Liquid water, mixed phase, or entirely glaciated clouds can be generated in the chamber, with cloud liquid water contents ranging from zero to the highest values found in nature.  Water clouds are typically generated in two ways.  For the first method, a water boiler is situated at the base of the chamber and produces a cloud of droplets.  At sub-zero temperatures, these quickly become supercooled.  Similarly, it is also possible to use atomisers in lieu of a boiler to generate a cloud of water droplets.  The second method involves using high power pumps to rapidly evacuate the chamber.  This depressurisation rapidly reduces the air temperature and causes cloud to form. Ice Clouds An ice cloud can be formed from a cloud of supercooled liquid water droplets by either heterogeneously or homogeneously nucleating the droplet cloud.  Homogeneous cloud nucleation, when warmer than about -36°C, is achieved using one of two methods.  Firstly, a rapid air expansion technique can be used in which a small volume of compressed air is rapidly expanded (adiabatically) to locally reduce air temperature below the homogeneous freezing temperature (about -36°C) and force ice formation (this is discussed further elsewhere on this site).  Alternatively, a liquid nitrogen-cooled rod (-200°C) is inserted into the cloud to turn the droplets into ice crystals.  The crystals generated then grow at the expense of the available water vapour and droplets. By varying the environmental chamber conditions and nucleation techniques, a range of habits, sizes and number concentrations of ice crystals can be produced for experimental studies.  The large height associated with the new chamber provides a longer crystal fall and growth time, and a new opportunity to grow particularly large, mm-sized, ice crystals and even aggregates in experiments. Other Instruments The chamber is also laced with sensors and probes.  In addition to pressure, humidity and temperature sensors, a number of inlets and port holes into the chamber allow the insertion of cloud and aerosol sampling probes.  The majority of the probes are located at the base of the cloud chamber and sample falling cloud hydrometeors.  Manchester utilises two Cloud Particle Imaging probes (CPI) and a Cloud Droplet Probe (CDP) amongst others; both the CPIs and CDP have been used extensively in chamber studies to sample ice crystals and droplets.  Also used in the chamber is a Welas aerosol detection probe. Research Topics Research in the chamber has covered several scientific topics, ranging from ice crystal aggregation, light scattering from ice crystals, ice crystal formation, ice crystal riming, the fall speed of small ice crystals, and thunderstorm electrification.  Further information about these topics is available from the navbar above. Mouseover the white dots to read more about the chamber 1st floor section Roof section 1st floor section Ground–1st floor space Ground floor section Please navigate this microsite using the main navbar above. Site and content created using Xara Designer Pro 6
Ground floor section Basement–ground floor space Basement section What’s new: 24/07/2010 Updated homogeneous ice crystal generation process video with small crystal footage.  Other minor site improvements. 22/07/2010 Updated video of water droplet falling at terminal velocity with new slow motion footage. 14/07/2010 New video demonstrating homogeneous ice crystal generation process added to formation of ice crystals page. 08/05/2010 Site visual appearance and functionality improved. 13/03/2010 Added the droplet freezing  page in the student projects section. Click here for older news