A principal cloud type (cloud genus), appearing as a thin, white patch of cloud without shadows, composed of very small elements in the form of grains, ripples, etc.
The elements may be merged or separate, and more or less regularly arranged; they subtend an angle of less than 1° when observed at an angle of more than 30° above the horizon. Holes or rifts often occur in a sheet of cirrocumulus. Cirrocumulus may be composed of highly supercooled water droplets, as well as small ice crystals, or a mixture of both; usually, the droplets are rapidly replaced by ice crystals. Sometime corona or irisation may be observed. Mamma may appear. Small virga may fall, particularly from cirrocumulus castellanus and floccus. (For further details, see cirriform.) Cirrocumulus, as well as altocumulus, often forms in a layer of cirrus and/or cirrostratus (Cc cirrogenitus or Cc cirrostratogenitus). In middle and high latitudes, cirrocumulus is usually associated in space and time with cirrus and/or cirrostratus; this association occurs less often in low latitudes. Cirrocumulus differs from these other cirriform clouds in that it is not on the whole fibrous, or both silky and smooth; rather, it is rippled and subdivided into little cloudlets. Cirrocumulus is most often confused with altocumulus. It differs primarily in that its constituent elements are very small (see above) and are without shadows. The term cirrocumulus is not used for incompletely developed small elements such as those on the margin of a sheet of altocumulus, or in separate patches at that level.