Abstract

Free space optics (FSO) channel availability is affected by atmospheric water particles, which may introduce severe path attenuation. A unified microphysically oriented atmospheric particle scattering (MAPS) model is proposed and described to simulate particle scattering effects on FSO links. Atmospheric particles, such as raindrops, graupel particles, and snowflakes, together with fog droplets, are considered. Input data to characterize liquid and frozen water particle size distribution, density, and refractivity are derived from available literature data and measurements. Scattering, absorption, and extinction coefficients as well as the asymmetry factor are numerically simulated for each particle class and then parametrized with respect to particle water content, fall rate, and visibility, spanning from visible to infrared wavelengths. Both single- and multiple-scattering effects are discussed and quantified by using a radiative transfer model for small-angle approximation. MAPS simulations confirm that fog layers are those causing the largest power extinction on FSO links, but also several decibels of attenuation can be attributed to snow and rain conditions. Multiple-scattering effects, especially due to fog droplets, heavy rain, and dry snowflakes, typically tend to reduce the total attenuation by increasing the received power. An estimate of these effects, parameterized to single-scattering extinction, is proposed for near-infrared FSO link design.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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