Abstract

An extremely accurate but simple asymptotic description (with known error) is obtained for the path of a ray propagating over a curved Earth with radial variations in refractive index. The result is sufficiently simple that analytic solutions for the path can be obtained for linear and quadratic index profiles. As well as rendering the inverse problem trivial for these profiles, this formulation shows that images are uniformly magnified in the vertical direction when viewed through a quadratic refractive-index profile. Nonuniform vertical distortions occur for higher-order refractive-index profiles.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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