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29 September 2017 Temporally resolved refractive index structure parameter measurement
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The refractive index structure parameter is the most common measure of optical turbulence. It is defined as a statistical quantity for the Kolmogorov spectrum energy cascade of turbulent eddies of different sizes. As such it is formally assumed to be constant in time and space. However, the large scale variation with the diurnal cycle, with altitude or with terrain characteristics is well known. The ensemble average in the definition of the refractive index structure parameter is thus assumed to be applied over a restricted region in space and time. The question of how large volume is needed to determine the refractive index structure parameter and on how short temporal scales it can vary has not received significant attention. To study the temporal variation we have used two independent measurement systems to measure the path-averaged refractive index structure parameter over a 171 m path at 1 m above ground with higher than 1 Hz temporal resolution. One measurement system uses the differential angle-of-arrival of an array of LEDs. The other system measures the scintillation of a single path laser beam using a photon counting system, with time correlation of picosecond pulses for simultaneous measurement of signal and background and with temporal autocorrelation-based variance determination to separate turbulence related scintillations from shot noise. The data shows excellent agreement between the two measurement systems on second level temporal variation, giving confidence in that the measured values show true variation of the refractive index structure parameter. Large scale variation of up to two orders of magnitude can be coupled to solar insolation on this partly cloudy day. High frequency variations that are consistent between the systems used show factor two changes at time scales below one second.
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Markus Henriksson and Robin Forsling "Temporally resolved refractive index structure parameter measurement", Proc. SPIE 10425, Optics in Atmospheric Propagation and Adaptive Systems XX, 1042503 (29 September 2017);

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