The possible effects of the atmosphere on the propagation of short optical pulses are estimated, and experiments are described using real time pulse-comparison techniques over a 1.6-km path. With a pulse duration of 1.5 nsec, an optical thickness of 2.8, and a typical angular beamwidth and field of view, pulse distortion was not observed. It is concluded that multiple scattering due to aerosols comprises the only mechanism of possible importance, and should be observable with shorter pulses or large angle optics. The results are pertinent to recently proposed, sophisticated optical communications and radar techniques.
J. R. Kerr, P. J. Titterton, and C. M. Brown, "Atmospheric Distortion of Short Laser Pulses," Appl. Opt. 8, 2233-2239 (1969)