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Humidity Halos Surrounding Small Cumulus Clouds in a Tropical Environment

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  • 1 Department of Geoscience, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York
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Abstract

A large dataset of aircraft cloud traverses from the Small Cumulus Microphysics Study (SCMS) was used to add to the existing knowledge of humidity halo characteristics for small cumulus clouds in a tropical environment. The findings from this investigation show a larger frequency of observed humidity halos than earlier studies. Regardless of the radial direction with respect to shear, humidity halos were observed with a frequency of 77%–90%. The difference in frequency of halo occurrences between upshear and downshear regions was much smaller than previously reported observations. These findings likely resulted from the absence of a strong vertical wind shear environment.

SCMS cumuli had a mean cloud diameter (i.e., in-cloud traverse distance) of 1.1 km and mean halo lengths of about 0.6, 0.7, and 0.8 cloud radii for upshear, cross-shear, and downshear regions, respectively. Humidity halos of less than one cloud radius were observed during about 70% of SCMS aircraft traverses. Approximately 98% of humidity halos had radial lengths of less than four cloud radii. Although considerable differences were not observed between upshear and downshear halo lengths for clouds of similar age, large increases in the frequency and length of halos occurred with an increase in cloud age.

Corresponding author address: Neil F. Laird, Department of Geoscience, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456. Email: laird@hws.edu

Abstract

A large dataset of aircraft cloud traverses from the Small Cumulus Microphysics Study (SCMS) was used to add to the existing knowledge of humidity halo characteristics for small cumulus clouds in a tropical environment. The findings from this investigation show a larger frequency of observed humidity halos than earlier studies. Regardless of the radial direction with respect to shear, humidity halos were observed with a frequency of 77%–90%. The difference in frequency of halo occurrences between upshear and downshear regions was much smaller than previously reported observations. These findings likely resulted from the absence of a strong vertical wind shear environment.

SCMS cumuli had a mean cloud diameter (i.e., in-cloud traverse distance) of 1.1 km and mean halo lengths of about 0.6, 0.7, and 0.8 cloud radii for upshear, cross-shear, and downshear regions, respectively. Humidity halos of less than one cloud radius were observed during about 70% of SCMS aircraft traverses. Approximately 98% of humidity halos had radial lengths of less than four cloud radii. Although considerable differences were not observed between upshear and downshear halo lengths for clouds of similar age, large increases in the frequency and length of halos occurred with an increase in cloud age.

Corresponding author address: Neil F. Laird, Department of Geoscience, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456. Email: laird@hws.edu

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