Abstract

Theoretical and experimental studies have been carried out to determine the importance of mechanical turbulence, i.e., velocity fluctuations, on the propagation of high power cw CO2 laser radiation in the atmosphere. The experimental results were obtained using artificially generated turbulence and show, in agreement with theory based on a diffusion model, that the turbulence tends to replace the asymmetric bending, focusing, and spreading by the mean wind with a symmetric blooming. For sufficiently strong velocity fluctuations, say, greater than two to three times the mean velocity, the turbulence can reduce thermal blooming effects and increase the beam irradiance. Smaller turbulence levels, however, may actually result in decreasing the beam irradiance somewhat. From these results and estimates of the properties of turbulent diffusion in the atmosphere it appears that under typical conditions the mechanical turbulence will not significantly reduce the wind-dominated thermal distortion effects.

© 1973 Optical Society of America

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