OSA's Digital Library

Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 43, Iss. 2 — Jan. 10, 2004
  • pp: 471–482

Atmospheric modulation transfer function in the infrared

Kobi Buskila, Shay Towito, Elad Shmuel, Ran Levi, Natan Kopeika, Keith Krapels, Ronald G. Driggers, Richard H. Vollmerhausen, and Carl E. Halford  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 43, Issue 2, pp. 471-482 (2004)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (3814 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



In high-resolution ultranarrow field-of-view thermal imagers, image quality over relatively long path lengths is typically limited by atmospheric degradation, especially atmospheric blur. We report our results and analyses of infrared images from two sites, Fort A. P. Hill and Aberdeen Proving Ground. The images are influenced by the various atmospheric phenomena: scattering, absorption, and turbulence. A series of experiments with high-resolution equipment in both the 3–5- and 8–13-μm regions at the two locations indicate that, as in the visible, image quality is limited much more by atmosphere than by the instrumentation for ranges even of the order of only a few kilometers. For paths close to the ground, turbulence is more dominant, whereas for paths involving higher average elevation, aerosol modulation transfer function (MTF) is dominant. As wavelength increases, turbulence MTF also increases, thus permitting aerosol MTF to become more dominant. A critical role in aerosol MTF in the thermal infrared is attributed to absorption, which noticeably decreases atmospheric transmission much more than in the visible, thereby reducing high-spatial-frequency aerosol MTF. These measurements indicate that atmospheric MTF should be a basic component in imaging system design and analysis even in the infrared, especially as higher-resolution hardware becomes available.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(010.1110) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Aerosols
(010.1290) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric optics
(010.1330) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric turbulence
(110.3080) Imaging systems : Infrared imaging
(110.4100) Imaging systems : Modulation transfer function
(290.1310) Scattering : Atmospheric scattering

Original Manuscript: April 4, 2003
Revised Manuscript: September 2, 2003
Published: January 10, 2004

Kobi Buskila, Shay Towito, Elad Shmuel, Ran Levi, Natan Kopeika, Keith Krapels, Ronald G. Driggers, Richard H. Vollmerhausen, and Carl E. Halford, "Atmospheric modulation transfer function in the infrared," Appl. Opt. 43, 471-482 (2004)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. K. Krapels, R. G. Driggers, R. H. Vollmerhausen, N. S. Kopeika, C. E. Halford, “Atmospheric turbulence modulation transfer function for infrared target acquisition modeling,” Opt. Eng. 40, 1906–1913 (2001). [CrossRef]
  2. N. S. Kopeika, A System Engineering Approach to Imaging, Vol. 38 of the SPIE Press Monographs (SPIE, Bellingham, Wash., 1998).
  3. J. W. Goodman, Statistical Optics (Wiley, New York, 1985).
  4. D. Sadot, G. Kitron, N. Kitron, N. S. Kopeika, “Thermal imaging through the atmosphere: atmospheric MTF theory and validation,” Opt. Eng. 33, 880–887 (1994). [CrossRef]
  5. D. Sadot, A. Dvir, I. Bergel, N. S. Kopeika, “Restoration of thermal images distorted by the atmosphere, based upon measured and theoretical atmospheric modulation transfer function,” Opt. Eng. 33, 44–53 (1994). [CrossRef]
  6. D. Sadot, N. S. Kopeika, “Forecasting optical turbulence strength on the basis of macro scale meteorology and aerosols: models and validation,” Opt. Eng. 31, 200–212 (1992). [CrossRef]
  7. D. Sadot, N. S. Kopeika, “Effects of absorption on image quality through a particulate medium,” Appl. Opt. 33, 7101–7111 (1994). [CrossRef]
  8. W. R. Watkins, S. B. Crow, F. T. Kantrowitz, “Characterizing atmospheric effects on target contrast,” Opt. Eng. 30, 1563–1575 (1991). [CrossRef]
  9. J. Gottlieb, B. Fogel, I. Dror, Z. Y. Ofer, N. S. Kopeika, “Prediction of airborne particle statistics according to weather forecast: concentration and scattering area,” Opt. Eng. 34, 1208–1218 (1995). [CrossRef]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited