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Sun-Earth Relations: Ionospheric Phenomena

The term Sun-Earth Relationship indicates a complex of different scientific matters, strongly multidisciplinary, including, among the others, solar physics, upper atmosphere physics and geomagnetism. The Earth is continuously hit by a flux of particles with different energies originating in the interplanetary space, mainly on the Sun. These phenomena influence the physical conditions of the geospace and can have an important impact on the space and terrestrial human activities. For this reason, in the frame of the so called Space Weather, they are carefully studied in order to investigate their mechanism and to develop, if possible, their forecasting. The ionosphere, being a plasma, is the atmospheric region mostly sensitive to the electromagnetic perturbations occurring in the outer space. The intensity and the number of such perturbations, and related consequences as ionospheric phenomena, depend on the solar activity. The auroras are among the most known. They appear as lights in the sky due to the upper atmosphere components (typically oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen) ionization caused by an enhancement of the particles influx on our atmosphere. Other phenomena, such as ionospheric absorption, ionospheric scintillations and positive/negative ionospheric storms, can have a dramatic impact on the operation of the navigation, communication and positioning systems.
INGV performs continuous and systematic measurements at middle and high latitudes of the ionospheric characteristics, through the vertical and oblique sounding, of the ionospheric absorption, with riometers recording, and of ionospheric scintillations, by means of high frequency GPS receivers.


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