The D layer, below about 80 km altitude, mainly absorbs radio waves. So-called sudden ionospheric disturbances are due to enhancements of the daytime D layer caused by solar flares. The E layer, between about 80 and 120 km, is reflective to short-wave radio and so can be used to bounce signals between distant stations on the ground; however, day-night variations in electron density result in marked variations in reflectivity. The F layer, upward of 120 km altitude, is also reflective and divides during the day into the F1 and F2 regions. The F2 region has the greater electron density, which peaks at midday at an altitude of 250 to 300 km. The F1 region has a smaller peak in electron density, which forms at around 170 km in the daytime. Above the F region is a region of exponentially decreasing density known as the topside ionosphere that extends to an altitude of a few thousand kilometers and, at mid-latitudes, feeds into the plasmasphere.
Related category ATMOSPHERIC PHENOMENA AND STRUCTURES
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