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Applied Optics

Applied Optics

APPLICATIONS-CENTERED RESEARCH IN OPTICS

  • Vol. 42, Iss. 3 — Jan. 20, 2003
  • pp: 476–485

Coronas and iridescence in mountain wave clouds

Joseph A. Shaw and Paul J. Neiman  »View Author Affiliations


Applied Optics, Vol. 42, Issue 3, pp. 476-485 (2003)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/AO.42.000476


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Abstract

We use Fraunhofer diffraction theory and meterological data to determine the nature of cloud-particle distributions and the mean particle sizes required for interpreting photographs of coronas and iridescence in mountain wave clouds. Traditional descriptions of coronas and iridescence usually explain these optical phenomena as diffraction by droplets of liquid water. Our analysis shows that the photographed displays have mean particle sizes from 7.6 to 24.3 μm, with over half the cases requiring diffraction by small (∼20 μm) quasispherical ice particles rather than liquid water droplets. Previous documentation of coronas produced by ice particles are limited to observations in cirrus clouds that appear to be composed of small ice crystals, whereas our observations suggest that coronas and iridescence quite often can be created by tiny quasispherical ice particles that might be unique to mountain wave clouds. Furthermore, we see that the dominant colors in mountain wave-cloud coronas are red and blue, rather than the traditionally described red and green.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(010.1290) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric optics
(010.1310) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric scattering
(010.3920) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Meteorology

History
Original Manuscript: January 29, 2002
Revised Manuscript: April 29, 2002
Published: January 20, 2003

Citation
Joseph A. Shaw and Paul J. Neiman, "Coronas and iridescence in mountain wave clouds," Appl. Opt. 42, 476-485 (2003)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/ao/abstract.cfm?URI=ao-42-3-476

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