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Reviews of Geophysics




Part 2 Supplement S


American Geophysical Union

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The author has taken a parochial view of the subject matter
under the title of ionospheric physics. Physics is used as the
key to separating this section of the aeronomy review from the
other aeronomy reports. Specifically, work categorized as
chemistry, optical emissions, and thermosphere will not be
reviewed in this section. However, coupling to the
thermosphere and more specifically to the magnetosphere is
considered. A brief section is also included on active
experiments which is a productive area in plasma physics and
also to some extent in ionospheric physics, but one that has
fallen on hard times with regard to the U.S. funding agencies.
To many, the ionosphere and its physics is regarded as a
mature applications science or perhaps even a technology.
This is far from the truth. The original wave of zeroth order
exploratory experiments and theories have long since gone,
but we still do not have predictive models (theories) that are
worthy of being called technological tools. There is
considerable current interest in developing a capability to
predict the morphology of ionospheric parameters on a global
scale. Some shortcomings for achieving this goal are
summarized in Section 4, the conclusion; they define, in part,
the future research goals of the ionospheric physics
community. Section 2 divides ionospheric physics according
to the community's normal regional classification, i.e.
equatorial, mid-latitude, auroral, and polar ionosphere. In
addition, the mid-latitude is extended upwards to include the
cold plasmaspheric population, and the polar region is also
extended upwards to include the polar wind. To date, this polar
wind population has still not been fully surveyed. Not all
ionospheric physics is naturally restricted to a regional
discussion and, therefore, in Section 3 the topics of
ionospheric electrodynamic inputs, ionospheric irregularities
and waves, active experiments, forecast modeling, and
coupling to other regions are reviewed, but material already
discussed in Section 2 is not repeated.


Originally published by the American Geophysical Union. This article appears in Reviews of Geophysics.
Note: This publication is also known as the U.S. National Report to International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics 1987-1990.

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