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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 30, Iss. 24 — Aug. 20, 1991
  • pp: 3421–3428

Corona-producing cirrus cloud properties derived from polarization lidar and photographic analyses

Kenneth Sassen  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 30, Issue 24, pp. 3421-3428 (1991)

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Polarization lidar data are used to demonstrate that clouds composed of hexagonal ice crystals can generate multiple-ringed colored coronas. Although relatively uncommon in our mid-latitude cirrus sample (derived from Project FIRE extended time observations), the coronas are associated with unusual cloud conditions that appear to be effective in generating the displays. Invariably, the cirrus cloud tops are located at or slightly above elevated tropopauses (12.7-km MSL average height) at temperatures between −60° and −70°C. The cloud top region also generates relatively strong laser backscattering and unusually high 0.5–0.7 linear depolarization ratios. Color photograph analysis of corona ring angles indicates crystals with mean diameters of from 12 to 30 μm. The cirrus cloud types were mainly subvisual to thin (i.e., bluish-colored) cirrostratus, but also included fibrous cirrus. Estimated cloud optical thicknesses at the 0.694-μm laser wavelength ranged from ~0.001 to 0.2, where the upper limit reflects the effects of multiple scattering and/or unfavorable changes in particle characteristics in deep cirrus clouds.

© 1991 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: October 3, 1990
Published: August 20, 1991

Kenneth Sassen, "Corona-producing cirrus cloud properties derived from polarization lidar and photographic analyses," Appl. Opt. 30, 3421-3428 (1991)

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  1. K. Sassen, “Iridescence in an aircraft contrail,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 1080–1083 (1979). [CrossRef]
  2. W. J. Humphries, Physics of the Air (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1929).
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  5. K. Sassen, M. K. Griffin, G. C. Dodd, “Optical scattering and microphysical properties of subvisual cirrus clouds, and climatic implications,” J. Appl. Meteorol. 28, 91–98 (1989). [CrossRef]
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  10. Since tropical cirrus frequently form in conditions similar to those reported here, it is possible that cirrus cloud coronas may be relatively more common in tropical and subtropical regions. However, the average δ = 0.3 reported for tropical cirrus (see Ref. 11) is only approximately one half of our value, so it is unclear whether similar particles are present.
  11. C. M. R. Platt, J. C. Scott, A. C. Dilley, “Remote sounding of high clouds. Part VI: Optical properties of midlatitude and tropical cirrus,” J. Atmos. Sci. 44, 729–747 (1987). [CrossRef]
  12. A. J. Heymsfield, C. M. R. Platt, “A parametrization of the particle size spectrum of ice clouds in terms of the ambient temperature and the ice water content,” J. Atmos. Sci. 41, 846–855 (1984). [CrossRef]
  13. K. Sassen, D. O’C. Starr, T. Uttal, “Mesoscale and microscale structure of cirrus clouds: three case studies,” J. Atmos. Sci. 46, 371–396 (1989). [CrossRef]
  14. C. M. R. Platt, J. D. Spinhirne, W. D. Hart, “Optical and microphysical properties of a cold cirrus cloud: evidence for regions of small ice particles,” J. Geophys. Res. 94, 11,151–11,164 (1989). [CrossRef]
  15. A. J. Heymsfield, K. M. Miller, J. D. Spinhirne, “The October 27–28, 1989 FIRE cirrus case study: cloud structure and composition from in situ measurements,” Mon. Weather Rev. 118, 2313–2328 (1991). [CrossRef]
  16. K. Sassen, A. J. Heymsfield, D. O’C. Starr, “Is there a cirrus small particle radiative anomaly?” presented at Conference on Cloud Physics, San Francisco, CA, Preprints available from American Meteorological Society, Boston, Mass.
  17. P. Minnis, D. F. Young, K. Sassen, J. M. Alverez, C. J. Grund, “The 27–28 October 1986 FIRE IFO cirrus case study: cirrus parameter relationships derived from satellite and lidar Data,” Mon. Weather Rev. 118, 2402–2425 (1991). [CrossRef]
  18. K. Sassen, K. N. Lious, “Scattering of polarized laser light by water droplet, mixed phase and ice clouds. Part I: Angular scattering patterns,” J. Atmos. Sci. 36, 838–851 (1979). [CrossRef]
  19. A. J. Heymsfleld, “Ice particles observed in a cirriform cloud at −83°C and implications for polar stratospheric clouds,” J. Atmos. Sci. 43, 851–855 (1986). [CrossRef]
  20. K. Sassen, C. J. Grund, J. Spinhirne, M. Hardesty, J. M. Alvarez, “The 27–28 October 1986 FIRE IFO cirrus case study: a five lidar overview of cloud structure and evolution,” Mon. Weather Rev. 118, 2288–2311 (1990). [CrossRef]

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