Ice particle interarrival times have been measured with a fast forward scattering spectrometer probe (FSSP). The distribution of interarrival times is bimodal instead of the exponential distribution expected for a Poisson process. The interarrival time modes are located at ∼10−2 and ∼10−4 s. This equates to horizontal spacings on both the centimeter and meter scales. The characteristics of the interarrival times are well modeled by a Markov chain process that couples together two independent Poisson processes operating at different scales. The possibility that ice crystals shattering on the probe tip causes the bimodal interarrival times is explored and cannot be ruled out. If the observations are indicating real spacings of particles in clouds, then the observations show very localized (centimeter scale) concentrations of ∼100 s cm−3 embedded within an average concentration of typically ∼1 cm−3. If the localized high concentrations are produced by the ice crystals shattering, then the concentration measured by the FSSP is overcounted by a factor of 5 in the worst case measured here, but more typically by a factor of 2. This uncertainty in concentration will adversely affect the predicted radiative influence of these clouds.
Corresponding author address: Dr. P. R. Field, Met Office, Building Y46, Cody Technology Park, Ively Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 0LX, United Kingdom. Email: email@example.com