Atmosphere–Ionosphere Electrodynamic Coupling

  • V. M. Sorokin
  • V. M. Chmyrev
Part of the Physics of Earth and Space Environments book series (EARTH)


Numerous phenomena that occur in the mesosphere, ionosphere, and the magnetosphere of the Earth are caused by the sources located in the lower atmosphere and on the ground. We describe the effects produced by lightning activity and by ground-based transmitters operated in high frequency (HF) and very low frequency (VLF) ranges. Among these phenomena are the ionosphere heating and the formation of plasma density inhomogeneities, the excitation of gamma ray bursts and atmospheric emissions in different spectral bands, the generation of ULF/ELF/VLF electromagnetic waves and plasma turbulence in the ionosphere, the stimulation of radiation belt electron precipitations and the acceleration of ions in the upper ionosphere. The most interesting results of experimental and theoretical studies of these phenomena are discussed below. The ionosphere is subject to the action of the conductive electric current flowing in the atmosphere–ionosphere circuit. We present a physical model of DC electric field and current formation in this circuit. The key element of this model is an external current, which is formed with the occurrence of convective upward transport of charged aerosols and their gravitational sedimentation in the atmosphere. An increase in the level of atmospheric radioactivity results in the appearance of additional ionization and change of electrical conductivity. Variation of conductivity and external current in the lower atmosphere leads to perturbation of the electric current flowing in the global atmosphere–ionosphere circuit and to the associated DC electric field perturbation both on the Earth’s surface and in the ionosphere. Description of these processes and some results of the electric field and current calculations are presented below. The seismic-induced electric field perturbations produce noticeable effects in the ionosphere by generating the electromagnetic field and plasma disturbances. We describe the generation mechanisms of such experimentally observed effects as excitation of plasma density inhomogeneities, field-aligned currents, and ULF/ELF emissions and the modification of electron and ion altitude profiles in the upper ionosphere. The electrodynamic model of the ionosphere modification under the influence of some natural and man-made processes in the atmosphere is also discussed. The model is based on the satellite and ground measurements of electromagnetic field and plasma perturbations and on the data on atmospheric radioactivity and soil gas injection into the atmosphere.


Electromagnetic field Plasma disturbances Upper ionosphere Atmosphere 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. M. Sorokin
    • 1
  • V. M. Chmyrev
  1. 1.Pushkov Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere and Radio Wave PropagationRussian Academy of Sciences, IZMIRANMoscow RegionRussia

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