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7 October 2014 Impact of large-scale atmospheric refractive structures on optical wave propagation
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Conventional techniques used to model optical wave propagation through the Earth’s atmosphere typically as- sume flow fields based on various empirical relationships. Unfortunately, these synthetic refractive index fields do not take into account the influence of transient macroscale and mesoscale (i.e. larger than turbulent microscale) atmospheric phenomena. Nevertheless, a number of atmospheric structures that are characterized by various spatial and temporal scales exist which have the potential to significantly impact refractive index fields, thereby resulting dramatic impacts on optical wave propagation characteristics. In this paper, we analyze a subset of spatio-temporal dynamics found to strongly affect optical waves propagating through these atmospheric struc- tures. Analysis of wave propagation was performed in the geometrical optics approximation using a standard ray tracing technique. Using a numerical weather prediction (NWP) approach, we simulate multiple realistic atmospheric events (e.g., island wakes, low-level jets, etc.), and estimate the associated refractivity fields prior to performing ray tracing simulations. By coupling NWP model output with ray tracing simulations, we demon- strate the ability to quantitatively assess the potential impacts of coherent atmospheric phenomena on optical ray propagation. Our results show a strong impact of spatio-temporal characteristics of the refractive index field on optical ray trajectories. Such correlations validate the effectiveness of NWP models as they offer a more comprehensive representation of atmospheric refractivity fields compared to conventional methods based on the assumption of horizontal homogeneity.
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Christopher G. Nunalee, Ping He, Sukanta Basu, Mikhail A. Vorontsov, and Steven T. Fiorino "Impact of large-scale atmospheric refractive structures on optical wave propagation", Proc. SPIE 9224, Laser Communication and Propagation through the Atmosphere and Oceans III, 92240W (7 October 2014);

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