The presence of clouds of ice particles in the uplink and downlink path of an illumination beam can severely impede the performance of an active imaging system. Depending on the optical depth of the cloud, i.e., its density and depth, the beam can be completely scattered and extinguished, or the beam can pass through the cloud with some fraction attenuated, scattered, and depolarized. In particular, subvisual cirrus clouds, i.e., high, thin cirrus clouds that cannot be observed from the ground, can affect the properties and alignment of both uplink and downlink beams. This paper discusses the potential for active imaging in the presence of cirrus clouds. We document field data results from an active imaging experiment conducted several years ago, which the authors believe to show the effects of cirrus clouds on an active imaging system. To verify these conclusions, we include the results of a simulation of the interaction of a coherent illumination scheme with a cirrus cloud.
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