Near-the-ground laser communication systems must operate in the presence of strong atmospheric turbulence. The effects of atmospheric turbulence on the laser beam that are relevant to optical communications are a broadening of the laser footprint, random jitter of the laser beam, and high spatial frequency intensity fluctuations referred to as scintillation. The overall goal of our program is to improve the performance and extend the range of optical communications systems by exploring the use of adaptive optics and channel coding. Knowledge of the turbulence conditions and the ability to describe its properties are the key aspects to make these improvements effective. The developed multiphase approach is directed to statistically describe atmospheric turbulence based on results derived from experimentally collected data. Statistics of Fried parameter is derived from of data collected over , and under various day and night atmospheric conditions. Significant fluctuations of are found with the values ranging from and up to , corresponding to the significant structure function fluctuations from to .
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