Abstract

Localized reduction in optical turbulence due to enhanced atmospheric heating caused by the solar absorption of aerosol black carbon (BC) is reported. Immediate response of atmospheric turbulence to BC-induced atmospheric warming strongly depends on the available solar radiation (time of the day), BC concentration, and atmospheric boundary layer dynamics. Besides the significant climate implications of a reduction in turbulence kinetic energy, a large reduction in the refractive index structure parameter (${\rm C}_n^2$) resulting from BC-induced warming would affect the atmospheric propagation of laser beams. Interestingly, aerosols contribute significantly (up to 25%) to the signal deterioration in optical wireless communication systems during convectively stable atmospheric conditions when higher signal-to-noise ratios are expected otherwise due to the reduced thermal convection. Competing effects of the fractional contributions of aerosol extinction and scintillations on beam attenuation are reported; daytime being largely dominated by scintillation effects while the nighttime being dependent on the ambient aerosol concentration as well. We put forward the entanglement of optical turbulence to aerosol concentration, atmospheric boundary layer dynamics, and surface-reaching solar radiation, and discuss the possible implications for optical propagation.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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