This publication contains 23 papers presented at a symposium organised by the task group on the International Reference Ionosphere - a common project of COSPAR and the International Union of Radio Science. The symposium itself took place at the 31st COSPAR Scientific Assembly, held in Birmingham, UK, during July 1996. It was the original aim of this long-standing international project to establish and further develop an empirical model of the undisturbed ionosphere. The result, called International Reference Ionosphere (IRI) is an extensive computer code from which vertical (monthly average) profiles of the most important parameters of the ionospheric plasma can be obtained. Efforts have been undertaken recently to take account of, and if possible predict the effects of geomagnetic and ionospheric disturbances. The majority of papers in this volume refer to this subject that has considerable practical importance for the assessment of the relevant phenomena in the upper atmosphere of Earth as well as for predicting their effects on radio wave propagation by reflection from or penetration through the terrestrial ionosphere.
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