What Are the Effects of HAARP on the Ionosphere?
Overview of Active Ionospheric Research
In the field of geophysics, the use of high power transmitters, such as the one
located at the HAARP facility, to study the upper atmosphere is called "active
ionospheric research." The HAARP facility will be used to introduce a small,
known amount of energy into a specific ionospheric layer for the purpose of
studying the complex physical processes that occur in these naturally occurring
plasma regions that are created each day by the sun. The effects of this added
energy are limited to a small region directly over the HAARP observatory ranging
in size from 9 km in radius to as much as 40 km in radius.
It is important to realize that HAARP interacts only with charged (or
ionized) particles in a limited region of the ionosphere directly over the
facility. Interaction occurs because a charged particle (electron or positive
ion) will react to an external electric field. HAARP does not interact with the
neutral atoms and molecules that make up the bulk of the gas at all atmospheric
When the HAARP HF transmitter is shut down at the end of an experiment, any
ionospheric effects rapidly dissipate, becoming imperceptible over time frames
ranging from fractions of a second to minutes. Extensive research conducted over
many years at other active ionospheric research facilities around the world has
shown that there are no permanent or long term effects resulting from this
research method. The following sections discuss these points in greater detail.
How Ionization Varies Naturally
The following chart  shows the degree of ionization measured in number of
electrons per as a function of height in kilometers
for a typical case.
The chart also shows the generally accepted positions for the
most important ionospheric regions: the D, E, and
layers. The red curve in this chart shows the level of
ionization that is typical during the daytime and the blue curve, the ionization
during the evening hours. (The actual ionization levels and ionospheric layer heights
will vary substantially over the 11 year solar cycle as well as for different geographic
locations and in different seasons of the year.)
It is quite apparent from this chart that the ionosphere undergoes a dramatic
change in ionization from day to night. The D layer, for example, disappears
entirely as soon as the sun sets. The electron (and ion) density in the E-layer
decreases by a factor of 200 to 1 and in the -layer by nearly
100:1. For all practical purposes, the lower layers disappear during the evening
hours as the sun's radiation is no longer creating new ions and the recombination
process depletes the existing ion supply. The density of neutral (non-ionized)
particles, on the other hand, does not vary from day to night.
How is the Ionosphere Affected by HAARP?
During active ionospheric research, a small, known amount of energy is added to
a specific region of one of the ionospheric layers as discussed previously. This
limited interactive region directly over the facility, will range in size,
depending on the frequency of operation and layer height, from as little as 9 km
in radius to as much as 40 km in radius and may be as much as 10 km in
thickness. The interactions occur only with ionized particles in the layer;
neutral (non-ionized) particles, which outnumber ionized particles by 500:1 or
greater, remain unaffected.
Effects produced by HAARP are thermal in nature and do not result in new ionization.
HAARP is not able to produce artificial ionization for the following two reasons.
We have provided a separate page that allows you to calculate
the diameter of the affected ionospheric region and the power density that can
be produced in that region by HAARP for any frequency and any layer height. The calculator
also allows selection of various array sizes up to the full 180 element, completed array.
- The frequencies used by the HAARP facility are in the High Frequency (HF)
portion of the spectrum. Electromagnetic radiation in the HF frequency range
is non-ionizing - as opposed to the sun's ultraviolet and X-ray
radiation whose photons have sufficient energy to be ionizing.
- The intensity of the radiation from the completed HAARP facility at
ionospheric heights will be too weak to produce artificial ionization through
particle interactions. The power density produced by the completed facility
will not exceed 3 to 4 microwatts per , about two
orders of magnitude below the level required for that process.
What Effects Are Produced By HAARP?
A portion of the energy contained in the high frequency radio wave transmitted by HAARP can
be transferred to existing electrons or ions making up the ionospheric plasma through a
process called absorption, thus raising the local effective temperature. As an
example, the typical electron temperature at a height of 275 km (the peak of the
region) may be on the order of 1400°K. . Work at
other active ionospheric research facilities has shown that it is possible to raise
this temperature by as much as 30% within a small, localized region during an experiment.
The affected region would then temporarily display electrical characteristics different
from neighboring regions of the layer. Sensitive scientific instruments on the ground
can then be used to study the dynamic physical properties of this region in great detail.
As the electrons (and ions) acquire additional energy, their temperature increases,
their kinetic energy increases and they begin to move more rapidly. In the F layer, this
increased movement or expansion results in a decrease in the electron density (electrons
move into adjacent undisturbed regions). Experience at other active ionospheric research
facilities  has shown that electron densities in the small, affected region may be
reduced by 10% to 20%. This reduction in electon density is shown in the above chart by
the dark green line.
Natural ionization in the F layer may produce an electron and ion density during
the daytime of 1,000,000 , about 0.2% of the total
gas present. Active ionospheric research using the HAARP HF transmitter
(interacting only with the ionized particles and not the neutral gas)
could suppress this electron density in a localized region to 800,000
. Compare this with the decrease in electron density
that occurs naturally through a large portion of the nighttime F region (shown in
the blue curve) of 500,000 or less and it is clear
that active ionospheric heating cannot duplicate what happens naturally, even
within the small affected region directly over the facility.
For ionospheric layers below about 200 km in altitude (the "D" and "E" layers, for
example), the electron density may actually increase as a result of active heating
because of the suppression of recombination processes. Compare this with the natural
depletion that occurs after sunset every evening when the E-layer electron density
falls by as much as 200 times to levels of 1,000
over almost the whole nighttime hemisphere.
 Davies,Kenneth, Ionospheric Radio, Peter Peregrinus Ltd.:London,
 Kelley, M. C., The Earth's Ionosphere, Academic Press, Inc:San
 Davies,Kenneth, p-518.