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About The Ionosphere


A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) have examined the long-term seasonal ionospheric observations at Indian Antarctica station Bharati between 2010 and 2022 and also with solar activity following the Sun’s 11-year cycle.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Ionosphere

About the Ionosphere:

Definition and Location:

  • The ionosphere is a segment of Earth’s upper atmosphere, spanning an altitude range of 100-1000 km.
  • Positioned above the mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere, it is partially ionized and exhibits dynamic behavior.

Polar Regions Dynamics:

  • At polar regions, the ionosphere is particularly dynamic, serving as a significant energy sink for space weather events within the magnetosphere-ionosphere system.
  • Vertical magnetic field lines in polar areas contribute to unique interactions.

Active Atmosphere Layer:

  • Overlapping with multiple atmospheric layers, including the mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere, the ionosphere is characterized by constant growth and shrinkage.
  • Its activity is closely tied to solar energy absorption.

Solar Influence:

  • Being a highly active atmospheric layer, the ionosphere’s dimensions fluctuate based on solar energy absorption.
  • It plays a vital role in space weather events.

Observational Challenges in Antarctica:

  • Observations in the ionosphere over Antarctica are relatively limited compared to the Arctic due to geographical constraints and a sparse station network.

Scientific Findings:

  • Long-term observations at Bharati station, Antarctica, revealed substantial seasonal variations in total electron count (TEC), with equinoctial months exhibiting maximum ionization.
  • Particle precipitation and convectional plasma transport from high latitudes were identified as contributing factors.

Seasonal Density Variations:

  • During polar days with 24 hours of sunlight in the summer, the ionospheric density was approximately twice that of polar nights in the Bharati region.

Study Significance:

  • Decade-long studies provide insights into the ionosphere’s impact on satellite-based navigation and communication systems.
  • Understanding these effects aids in developing mitigation strategies.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB

February 2024