We show experimentally that the polarization properties of the return wave in a monostatic double-pass optical system with a glass corner-cube retroreflector operating in the clear-air turbulent atmosphere are modulated in a complex manner. This effect is due to deterministic modulation of the direct beam’s polarization state by the three cube’s facets, and the subsequent random superposition of the three reflected subbeams by turbulence along the return path. In particular, this results in the decrease of the degree of polarization of the return beam both within and outside of the enhanced backscatter (EBS) area. Our findings may find uses in any applications based on the monostatic channels embedded into atmospheric turbulence: the EBS-based target tracking systems and the retromodulation free-space optical communication systems, for example. We also envision that the polarimetric domain may be employed for simultaneous sensing of several parameters of the atmospheric power spectrum.
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