Abstract

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

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