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Demonstrating 24-hour continuous vertical monitoring of atmospheric optical turbulence

Griffiths, Ryan; Osborn, James; Farley, Ollie; Butterley, Tim; Townson, Matthew J.; Wilson, Richard

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Ryan Griffiths

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Ollie Farley
Post Doctoral Research Associate


We report what is believed to be the first example of fully continuous, 24-hour vertical monitoring of atmospheric optical turbulence. This is achieved using a novel instrument, the 24-hour Shack-Hartmann Image Motion Monitor (24hSHIMM). Optical turbulence is a fundamental limitation for applications such as free-space optical communications, where it limits the achievable bandwidth, and ground-based optical astronomy, restricting the observational precision. Knowledge of the turbulence enables us to select the best sites, design optical instrumentation and optimise the operation of ground-based optical systems. The 24hSHIMM estimates the vertical optical turbulence coherence length, time, angle and Rytov variance from the measurement of a four-layer vertical turbulence profile and a wind speed profile retrieved from meteorological forecasts. To illustrate our advance we show the values of these parameters recorded during a 36-hour, continuous demonstration of the instrument. Due to its portability and ability to work in stronger turbulence, the 24hSHIMM can also operate in urban locations, providing the field with a truly continuous, versatile turbulence monitor for all but the most demanding of applications.


Griffiths, R., Osborn, J., Farley, O., Butterley, T., Townson, M. J., & Wilson, R. (2023). Demonstrating 24-hour continuous vertical monitoring of atmospheric optical turbulence. Optics Express, 31(4), 6730-6740.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 15, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 9, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 20, 2023
Journal Optics Express
Publisher Optica
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 4
Pages 6730-6740
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Copyright Statement
Published by Optica Publishing Group under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article’s title,
journal citation, and DOI.

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