Ionosphere and Space Weather



The ionosphere is the upper most layer of the atmosphere between 50 km and 1000-2000 km altitude. The ionosphere plays an important role in radio wave propagation. It is the layer of the atmosphere in which the concentration of free electrons is sufficient to affect the propagation of radio waves.The study of natural and artificial phenomena that take place in this layer of the atmosphere is the subject of the research one within the department.

The relationship between the atmosphere and the ionosphere

The modern-day society uses sophisticated technological systems relying on the emission and reception of radio waves: ground-to-ground and ground-to-space telecommunications, Global Navigation Satellite Systems - GNSS (such as GPS, Galileo), radars, etc. A disturbed ionosphere can strongly affect the performance of such technological systems and it is, therefore, important to monitor and model the ionospheric activity and its effects.

Main Activities

The focus is on :

  • Research on Ionosphere/Space Weather
  • Monitoring and modeling the ionosphere/space weather activity
  • Monitoring and modeling the ionosphere/space weather effects on radio communications and GNSS-based positioning/navigation
  • Monitoring the cosmic rays intensity

The results are maintained on the personal site of this department : Site Department Ionosphere

All the activities of this section are  situated in Dourbes. The section participates in various national and international research projects supported by BELSPO (Belgian Science Policy Office) , the ESA (European Space Agency), the GSA (GNSS Supervising Authority), etc .

Measurement instruments

In the frame of its scientific research activities, the section is responsible for the operation of various instruments installed at the Geophysical Center of Dourbes:

  • an ionosonde (Lowell Digisonde-4D) monitoring the main ionospheric characteristics
  • a neutron monitor for cosmic ray monitoring
  • GNSS receivers for monitoring ionospheric scintillations and total electron content (TEC)


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