A methodology is presented for the characterization of atmospheric effects on the propagation of target contrast. The basic concept is to compare matched images simultaneously along a common line of sight from two imagers-one close up or in the near field and the other at engagement range or in the far field. One-to-one pixel comparison of these target scenes allows degradation of target contrast caused by propagation effects between the near-field and far-field positions to be quantified. Temporal changes of inherent signature can be quantified by monitoring the changes in the near-field imagery. The real-time image processing techniques, proof of principle guidelines, and several applications of the methodology are detailed.