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EM-Waves Propagation in Atmosphere


Theoretical Study of Intense High-Frequency Electromagnetic Waves Propagation in Atmosphere Including Nonstationary, Nonlinear and Kinetic Effects.

Tech Area / Field

  • PHY-RAW/Radiofrequency Waves/Physics

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Bunyatov K S

Leading Institute
VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov

Supporting institutes

  • FIAN Lebedev, Russia, Moscow


  • Los-Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos\nUS Department Army/US Army Space and Strategic Defense Command / Missile Defense and Space Technology Center (MDSTC), USA, AL, Huntsville

Project summary

The propagation of small-amplitude radio waves is a subject of a linear electrodynamics and depends on the plasma ionization level in the atmosphere which is known from many observations. The development of high power phased arrays and other microwave sources opens new area of ionosphere exploration when the amplitude of microwave is big enough so it can change the propagation characteristics along the trajectory due to ionization, plasma heating, and/or ponderomotive effects.

Existing theories of nonlinear interaction of microwaves with ionosphere are usually dealing with the nonlinear plasma response to a prescribed high-frequency wave and in many cases do not include the multispecies nature of atmospheric plasmas (see, for example, reviews by A. V. Gurevich. Nonlinear Phenomena in the Ionosphere, Springer-Verlag, 1978, and by K. Papadopoulos: Ionospheric modification by radio waves, in: Nonlinear and Relativistic Effects in Plasmas, ed. by V. Stefan, AIP, New York, 1992).

In this project we will develop self-consistent theory of the nonlinear propagation of large-amplitude microwaves in atmosphere and lower ionosphere (altitudes from 60 to about 150 km above the Earth's surface). This theory will be based on the kinetic code for free and secondary electrons with various elastic and inelastic collisions with neutrals and different ion species and hydrodynamic ion code which includes most important chemical reactions combined with the nonlinear electromagnetic code. These codes will be developed in VNIIEF and will be run together and will use the existing data base of atmospheric and ionospheric parameters. The numerical simulations will be supported by the analytical theory which will be developed in collaboration with FIAN's part of the research team and also will be compared with available experimental data. The project concerns with the fundamental aspects of high power microwave interaction with ionosphere but it will also address practical problems of: (i) efficiency of micro wave energy transmission through atmosphere from the Earth to the upper ionosphere, (ii) Earth-to-satellite communications, (iii) the radio wave control of the ozone concentration in ionosphere, and (iv) remote monitoring of impurity concentrations in atmosphere.

The results of the project could be used for further experimental studies of nonlinear micro wave propagation in the ionosphere and also might lead to new technologies for the remote monitoring and control of chemical processes in ionosphere. The project will allow to turn the attention of 10 researchers involved in the weapon science to unclassified problems of nonlinear electrodynamics and plasma physics. It correlates with activities of European (the high power facility in Tromso, Norway) and American (HIPAS facility in Fairbanks, Alaska, powerful radars in Boulder and Arecibo) scientists on ionospheric heating and modification. The international contacts could be established during the period of this project which could be carried out further on the basis of international cooperation.


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