Laser devices are currently in widespread use in particular by armed forces for different tasks. Electro-optical sensors as
well as unprotected human eyes are extremely sensitive to laser radiation and can be permanently damaged from direct
or reflected beams. Laser damage depends on the interaction between the laser beam and the atmosphere in which it
traverses. The atmospheric conditions, including the range, terrain features, turbulence, and atmospheric particulates,
may alter the laser's effect on different electro-optical devices and systems.
When a laser beam passes through the atmosphere the optical turbulence affects the beam. As a result, temporal
intensity fluctuations (scintillations) or spatial variations in intensity within a beam cross-section occur. Atmospheric
scintillations pose a safety problem because an observer or sensor can be subjected to the risk of a localized irradiance
(local focusing effect) much greater than that which would occur in a non-turbulent medium.
In the present work, the influence of the atmospheric channel on laser safety is investigated by use of experimental data
of laser beam propagation statistics for different atmospheric conditions.
The results can be important in the area of laser remote sensing, wireless optical communications, and active imaging.