While space weather is a term in vogue, it should recognized that there are a number of external (environmental) factors that influence the performance of radio communication systems. While the energy that fuels variability of the ionosphere may ultimately derive from the sun, it is clear that secondary energy sources from below the ionosphere may also instrumental in the development of ionospheric irregularities. In some cases, the interaction between space weather and the neutral atmosphere may be just as important as its interaction with the ionosphere and plasmasphere. Atmospheric gravity waves that produce traveling ionospheric disturbances (TID) come to mind. The process whereby space weather influences the character of upper atmospheric winds is becoming understood, but the process of forecasting the direction, magnitude, and wavelength of TIDs has not been fully developed.
Radio communication systems operate at maximum efficiency in a high signal-to-noise environment. The community spends a great deal of time discussing the ionospheric (and space weather) impact on the strength of radio signals, but very little time examining its impact on the atmospheric and cosmic noise components. The general radio noise environment has a climate of its own, and it is modulated by space weather parameters. Existing models of radio noise are climatological in nature and are not generally amenable to update. It can be safely stated that a fundamental weakness in radio system performance predictions is the lack of precision in the specification of the noise and interference background.
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