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We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.

Photo courtesy of Jyrki Manninen

The Ionosphere

Scientists call the ionosphere an extension or a part of the thermosphere. So technically, the ionosphere is not another atmospheric layer, but a region of the atmosphere. The ionosphere represents less than 0.1% of the total mass of the Earth's atmosphere. Even so, it is extremely important!

The upper atmosphere is ionized by solar radiation. Under normal conditions free electrons and ions tend to recombine and a balance is established between electron and ion production and loss.

Ionization processes release energy which heat up the upper atmosphere. So temperature increases with height in the ionosphere region to the extent that by 150-200km, the Earth's atmosphere is extremely hot compared to surface temperatures.

Different regions of the ionosphere make long distance radio communication possible by reflecting the radio waves back to Earth. It is also home to auroras and the mega-ampere currents that heat the atmosphere at high latitudes during geomagnetically active times. During storms, depletions and enhancements of ionization occur depending on the local time and geographical location.

Aeronomy is a term of recent origin which is applied to the processes, both physical and chemical, of the ionosphere.

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Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA