Ionosphere-High Frequency Radio Wave Reflection


Schematic diagram showing the propagation of high-frequency (shortwave) radio waves by reflection off the ionosphere

Specific ionization conditions vary greatly between day (left) and night (right), causing radio waves to reflect off different layers of the ionosphere or transmit through them, depending upon their frequency and their angle of transmission. Under certain conditions of location, ionization, frequency, and angle, multiple “skips,” or reflections between ionosphere and Earth, are possible. At night, with no intervening layers of the ionosphere present, reflection off the F layer can yield extremely long transmission ranges.

High-frequency (HF) radio is in the 100- to 10-metre wavelength band, extending from 3 megahertz to 30 megahertz. Much of the HF band is allocated to mobile and fixed voice communication services requiring transmission bandwidths of less than 12 kilohertz. International (shortwave radio) broadcasting also is conducted in the HF band; it is allocated to seven narrow bands between 5.9 megahertz and 26.1 megahertz.

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