In this paper, on the basis of the extended Huygens–Fresnel principle, a semianalytical expression for describing on-axis scintillation index of a partially coherent flat-topped (PCFT) laser beam of weak to moderate oceanic turbulence is derived; consequently, by using the log-normal intensity probability density function, the bit error rate (BER) is evaluated. The effects of source factors (such as wavelength, order of flatness, and beam width) and turbulent ocean parameters (such as Kolmogorov microscale, relative strengths of temperature and salinity fluctuations, rate of dissipation of the mean squared temperature, and rate of dissipation of the turbulent kinetic energy per unit mass of fluid) on propagation behavior of scintillation index, and, hence, on BER, are studied in detail. Results indicate that, in comparison with a Gaussian beam, a PCFT laser beam with a higher order of flatness is found to have lower scintillations. In addition, the scintillation index and BER are most affected when salinity fluctuations in the ocean dominate temperature fluctuations.
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