Ionospheric physics

In Ionospheric physics we study the near-Earth geospace with focus on the processes that affect the ionosphere within the Arctic region. Ionosphere is the ionized upper atmosphere between 70 and 1000 km altitude and it can be explored by instruments such as the international EISCAT radars and ESA’s Swarm satellites. Our aim is to understand how space weather events, such as solar wind high-speed streams and coronal mass ejections from the Sun affect the ionosphere. These events not only produce beautiful Northern lights, but also affect HF radio wave propagation and GNSS navigation.
Auroras on the sky.

Research group information

Contact information

Research group leader

  • Professor
    Anita Aikio

Research group description

We carry out research to understand the whole chain of processes starting from the Sun and the solar wind, interacting with the terrestrial magnetosphere and coupled with the ionosphere-thermosphere system. The topics of our research involve: Auroral electrodynamics, Ionospheric electrical currents and GIC (geomagnetically induced ground currents) effects, Field-aligned currents and North-South hemispheric asymmetry, Ionospheric heating produced by Joule heating and auroral particle precipitation, Coupling of the ionosphere and thermosphere, and Space Weather effects on the ionosphere and radio wave propagation. We have wide international and national collaboration within our research themes.

One of the most important research infrastructures used in our research is the international EISCAT incoherent scatter (IS) radar facility. With these radars, located on the mainland of Scandinavia and on Svalbard, researchers can study the Earth's ionosphere up to 1000 kilometers. The mainland radars will be replaced by 2022 with a phased array EISCAT_3D radar facility, with stations distributed in Skibotn Norway, Karesuvanto Finland and Kajseniemi Sweden. This will be a world-leading IS radar facility. In addition, the group utilizes several other ground-based equipment such as all-sky cameras, magnetometers, riometers etc. which are operated by the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO, independent department of Oulu University) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). Satellite missions, e.g. SWARM by ESA, play also an important role in our research.

We develop cutting-edge methods for incoherent scatter radar measurements and data analysis, especially for the EISCAT and EISCAT_3D radars and the KAIRA receiver, as well as for analysis of ionospheric current systems from satellite or ground-based magnetometer measurements, in specific for ESA’s Swarm satellite and IMAGE magnetometers.

The main project funding comes from Academy of Finland, Kvantum institute of University of Oulu, ESA and EU.


Professor, head of the research unit


PhD students

  • Nada Ellahouny
  • Meseret Mekuriaw
  • Gopika Prasannakumara
  • Jussi Laitinen