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Ham Radio Operators Tune In to Giant Waves in the Earth’s Ionosphere

Sometimes the electrons in the upper atmosphere clump up and form giant waves larger than Texas that zip around the Earth faster than a jet plane! A team of researchers from the NASA/NSF-supported Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI) led by Nathaniel Frissell at The University of Scranton has observed these giant waves for the first time. Volunteers from the amateur radio community collected the data.

This new technique vividly demonstrates the effect of these waves on radio communications. It can help us understand where these waves come from, and how the layers of our atmosphere interact. These results were published in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters. If you love amateur radio and like to get involved with the HamSci citizen science project, visit https://hamsci.org/.

Colorful image representing the distance that amateur radio operators can communicate and how that changes over time. Red dots represent a wave-like pattern.
The distance that amateur radio operators can communicate with each other changes over time, tracing a wave-like pattern (red dots). Credit: Frissell et al. 2022. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2022GL097879

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