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Energy transfer between the interacting waves in a distributed Brillouin sensor can result in a distorted measurement of the local Brillouin gain spectrum, leading to systematic errors. It is demonstrated that this depletion effect can be precisely modelled. This has been validated by experimental tests in an excellent quantitative agreement. Strict guidelines can be enunciated from the model to make the impact of depletion negligible, for any type and any length of fiber.doi:10.1364/oe.21.014017 pmid:23787592 fatcat:246zfjxf3baxjhnzarbtgr6btu