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The spatial clustering of drops is a defining characteristic of rain on all scales from centimeters to kilometers. It is the physical basis for much of the observed variability in rain. The authors report here on the temporal–spatial 1-min counts using a network of 21 optical disdrometers over a small area near Charleston, South Carolina. These observations reveal significant differences between spatial and temporal structures (i.e., clustering) for different sizes of drops, which suggest that temporal observations of clustering cannot be used to infer spatial clustering simply using by an advection velocity as has been done in past studies. It is also shown that both spatial and temporal clustering play a role in rain variability depending upon the drop size. The more convective rain is dominated by spatial clustering while the opposite holds for the more stratiform rain.

Like previous time series measurements by a single disdrometer but in contradiction with widely accepted drop size distribution power-law relations, it is also shown that there is a linear relation between 1-min averages of the rainfall rate R over the network and the average total number of drops Nt. However, the network (area) R–Nt relation differs from those derived strictly from time series observations by individual disdrometers. These differences imply that the temporal and spatial size distributions and their variabilities are not equivalent.

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© 2015 American Meteorological Society. Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher's version of record:

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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences


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