Abstract

In this fourth of a series of papers that describe long-term cloud research at the Facility for Atmospheric Remote Sensing at Salt Lake City, Utah, an ∼10-year record of polarization lidar and photographic observations is analyzed to characterize the occurrence of optical displays in our local varieties of midlatitude cirrus clouds. The frequencies of occurrence of various types of halo, arc, and corona displays are evaluated according to their appearance and longevity over nominal 1-h observation periods and to the meteorological source of the cirrus. We find that complex halo-arc displays are rare at our locale and that even the so-called common 22° halo occurs infrequently as a complete long-lived ring. For example, only ∼6% of the 1561-h daytime cirrus periods have bright and prolonged 22° halos, although a total of 37.3% have some indications of this halo, even if they are brief and fragmentary. Other fairly frequent features are the 22° upper tangent arc (8.6%), 22° parhelia (8.5%), and solar corona (7.2%). Of the optical displays observed, 83.6% are refraction based, only 1.9% are due to reflection phenomena, and a surprising 15.4% are caused by diffraction. Complex halo-arc displays are disproportionally associated with cirrus formed in tropical or subtropical airflow and also contain more horizontally oriented planar ice crystals. Lidar linear depolarization ratios from a subset of vivid displays show significant differences between halo- and the corona-producing cirrus, reflecting the effects of particle shape. Halos are associated with relatively warm cirrus that contain randomly and horizontally oriented planar ice crystals, whereas the colder corona cirrus produce much stronger depolarization from crystals too small to be uniformly oriented. Comparisons are made with available information from other locales, and we attempt to explain the geographical differences in terms of basic cirrus cloud processes.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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