Anatomy of cirrus clouds: Results from the Emerald airborne campaigns

James Whiteway*, Clive Cook, Martin Gallagher, Tom Choularton, John Harries, Paul Connolly, Reinhold Busen, Keith Bower, Michael Flynn, Peter May, Robin Aspey, Jorg Hacker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The Emerald airborne measurement campaigns have provided a view of the anatomy of cirrus clouds in both the tropics and mid-latitudes. These experiments have involved two aircraft that combine remote sensing and in-situ measurements. Results are presented here from two separate flights: one in frontal cirrus above Adelaide, Australia, the other in the cirrus outflow from convection above Darwin. Recorded images of ice crystals are shown in relation to the cloud structure measured simultaneously by an airborne lidar. In mid-latitude frontal cirrus, columnar and irregular ice crystals were observed throughout the cloud while rosettes were found only at the top. The cirrus outflow from a tropical thunderstorm extended for hundreds of kilometres between the heights of 12.2 and 15.8 km. This was composed mainly of hexagonal plates, columns, and large crystal aggregates that originated from within the main core region of the convection. A small number of bullet rosettes were found at the top of the outflow cirrus and this is interpreted as an indication of in-situ crystal formation. It was found that the largest aggregates fell to the lower regions of the outflow cirrus cloud while the single crystals and small aggregates remained at the top.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 28 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • 0320 Atmospheric composition and structure: Cloud physics and chemistry
  • 0365 Atmospheric composition and structure: Troposphere - Composition and chemistry
  • 3314 Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics: Convective processes
  • 3360 Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics: Remote sensing
  • 3394 Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics: Instruments and techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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