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Proceedings Paper

Impact of large-scale atmospheric refractive structures on optical wave propagation
Author(s): Christopher G. Nunalee; Ping He; Sukanta Basu; Mikhail A. Vorontsov; Steven T. Fiorino
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Paper Abstract

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.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 October 2014
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9224, Laser Communication and Propagation through the Atmosphere and Oceans III, 92240W (7 October 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2063022
Show Author Affiliations
Christopher G. Nunalee, North Carolina State Univ. (United States)
Ping He, North Carolina State Univ. (United States)
Sukanta Basu, North Carolina State Univ. (United States)
Mikhail A. Vorontsov, Univ. of Dayton (United States)
Steven T. Fiorino, Air Force Institute of Technology (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9224:
Laser Communication and Propagation through the Atmosphere and Oceans III
Alexander M. J. van Eijk; Christopher C. Davis; Stephen M. Hammel, Editor(s)

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