Unless you are a radio communications hobbyist you most likely are not aware of a phenomenon known as ionospheric radio wave propagation. This phenomenon can unknowingly affect your paranormal investigation and in some cases cause perceived paranormal activity that isn’t paranormal at all.
So what is ionospheric radio wave propagation?
Without getting into to much technical jargon I will explain what this is as simply as I can. There is a phenomenon that allows long distance communications that is called ionospheric radio wave propagation. This phenomenon occurs when solar magnetic radiation emanating from sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the sun, electrically charges the Earth’s ionosphere. The ionosphere is a region of Earth’s atmosphere that ranges from 30 to 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. When solar electromagnetic radiation causes the ionosphere to become electrically charged it causes the ionosphere to act like a mirror for radio signals below 30MHz so it is possible for the signals to bounce off the charged ionosphere and end up hundreds or up to 10,000+ miles away on the other side of the world. Radio signals also can bounce off of the Earth’s terrain and water to allow for multiple skips. Sunspots which cause radio propagation are on a 11 year cycle, therefore ionospheric radio wave propagation conditions go on a 11 year cycle (intensity wise). In 2006 we were at the lowest activity part of the cycle. The cycle peaked again in 2013 and is estimated to peak again in November 2024. It is predicted to be the strongest solar peak on record. Ionospheric radio wave propagation isn’t always happening. Some days it is very strong and using an AM radio, Citizen’s Band Radio, or a Short-wave Radio you can hear signals coming from all over the world. Other days there is no active ionospheric radio wave propagation due to ionospheric conditions. The level of propagation completely depends on sunspot intensity on the surface of the sun.
There is no exact science to predict when propagation conditions will be present, but there are ways to have a well informed guess. Often the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is a department within the United States Government, will report when there was a big solar flare which will create Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australias (Northern and Southern Lights). This can often increase ionospheric radio wave propagation. The are really only two things that you can do to see if there is ionospheric radio wave propagation conditions in your area. The first way is to buy a shortwave radio and check out multiple radio bands below 30MHz. The easier option is to monitor two websites which are maintained by the NOAA.
The Space Weather report (caused by the Sun) can be found at https://www.swpc.noaa.gov . That is a website to look at in the few days leading up to your investigation. Just before and during your investigation it is beneficial to check on the current status of the ionospheric radio wave propagation reports can be found at https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/communities/radio-communications .
So how does all of this effect paranormal investigations?
Do you use an EMF meter, REM pod, or a voice recorder? While I personally don’t recommend using one do you use a spirit box or a ghost box? If you are asking why I don’t use them I will pose you this question. Unless someone was a radio technician in life how would they suddenly gain the knowledge after dying on how to alter the electronics of a radio communication receiving device to use it as a method of communication? I have been a radio communications hobbyist for nearly 30 years and hold multiple radio communications licenses. I have a good understanding of how a radio receiver works and thoroughly understand electromagnetic radiation, particularly in the radio spectrum. With that knowledge I have to reject the theory that a paranormal entity could manipulate the radio spectrum or a radio device in a way to use it as a mechanism for communication. An EMF meter, REM Pod, Voice Recorder, spirit or ghost box, and any other device that is susceptible to radio waves can be affected by ionospheric radio wave propagation. It is common knowledge that local radio signals can effect equipment, but what is not commonly known in the paranormal investigation field is that radio waves due to ionospheric radio wave propagation are just as if not more likely to cause anomalies with your investigation equipment.
There are radio hobbyists all over the world that use ionospheric radio wave propagation as a method of recreational communication. On any given day there are thousands of radio communication hobbyists all over the world trying to take advantage of a charged ionosphere to speak to people all over the planet. I am one of the hobbyists myself. While ionospheric radio wave propagation doesn’t happen to much over 30MHz there are many radio communication applications being used below 30MHz. While your FM radio receives from 88MHz to 108MHz which is well above 30MHz, your AM radio receives from 0.530MHz to 1.7MHz. What other radio communications usage occurs below 30MHz? Long-wave, Medium-wave, and Short-wave radio broadcasts that are most commonly used in other countries, but there are still some in the United States. The majority of those methods transmit below 1MHz. There are many radio broadcast bands in other countries that span a good portion of radio frequencies below 30MHz. Amateur radio (licensed hobbyists) have a multitude of frequency allocations below 30MHz. There are also radio bands allocated for maritime communications, citizens band radio, radio beacons, military, aeronautics, radio astronomy, and fixed mobile radio. Many radio communication hobbyists are using hundreds or even thousands of watts of power in their radio transmissions.
A good portion of wireless radio controlled devices share frequencies in the Citizens Band Radio frequency range. There are thousands and thousands of people who in their hobby use Citizens Band Radio for ionospheric radio wave propagation. While there are specific frequencies that they are suppose to use, it is not generally regulated by most governments. It is mostly a free for all. There are guys running thousands or even over 10,000 watts of power. Someone on the other side of the country, or in a different country could be attempting to make contact with another hobbyist thousands of miles away and their high powered radio signal bounces off of the ionosphere and comes back down into your paranormal investigation equipment. If you are in New Hampshire in the United States conducting a paranormal investigation, someone in the radio communications hobby in California or even in Australia could be pushing hundreds or thousands of watts of power in a radio signal that is being received by your paranormal investigation equipment. This can result in electronic interference or in audio receiving equipment you can hear voices. If at a location you are investigating and someone has wireless controlled devices that use frequencies at or remotely near the Citizens Band Radio allocation of frequencies the high powered signals from ionospheric radio wave propagation (or those within a handful of miles of the location) could cause a radio controlled device to activate and operate as if someone was controlling it.
A voice recorder could pick up all kinds of strange interference from ionospheric radio wave propagation. It can taint your audio recordings with unnecessary interference and may be misinterpreted as paranormal. An EMF meter or a REM pod could light up like a Christmas tree with signals coming through from ionospheric radio wave propagation. It can cause all kinds of readings that could be misinterpreted as paranormal. While I won’t use one if you use a spirit or ghost box it is common knowledge that they work in the FM radio band well above 30MHz however the receivers’ components are still very susceptible to interference from high powered lower frequencies.
So what can you do about it? How can you minimize this phenomenon? Firstly it is important to be aware of it. At various points throughout your investigation check out the propagation map that I linked earlier in this blog post to see where the phenomenon is most active. If it is very active in your area you need to take that into consideration when there is activity on your devices. Secondly and most importantly if you are using a voice recorder or a spirt or ghost box put them in a Faraday bag, pouch, or cage when you are using them. What is this Faraday that I speak of? In general you can pick one up for less than $25 and it will shield your devices from some frequency ranges of electromagnetic energy including radio waves. The Faraday device will absorb the vast majority of the radio waves so they won’t affect your equipment. These Faraday devices are readily available at many electronics stores and Amazon. Some paranormal investigation and ghost hunting equipment stores sell them as well. “But, Mr. Extreme if I use it on my ghost box or spirit box I won’t hear anything.” No, most likely you won’t as I don’t believe spirits can interact with the device in a way to produce communication. What you are hearing is snippets of radio signals coming from FM radio stations and due to the “Observer Expectancy Effect” which basically means that you want what you are hearing to be paranormal so you consider it to be as such. Put your ghost box or spirit box into a Faraday bag and watch it go silent.
I use a Faraday cage for my voice recorder to help eliminate electromagnetic interference. It allows voice frequencies to pass through, but blocks a most other radiation that could interfere with the voice recorder. You don’t see that on television as it would minimize sound evidence that wasn’t paranormal in nature and make for a boring television show, however your most seasoned and serious paranormal investigators use them.
Were you aware of the ionospheric radio wave propagation phenomenon? Are you thinking about how some of your audio evidence or equipment interference could have been caused by it? If electronic devices were activating randomly did you check to see if there were ionospheric radio wave propagation conditions in your area? Was there a radio hobbyist nearby engaged in their hobby putting out hundreds or thousands of watts? As a serious paranormal investigator it is important to eliminate as much interference as possible to help minimize false positives. It is important to monitor space weather reports when you are planning for an investigation and keeping an eye on ionospheric radio wave propagation conditions during your investigations. Someone at the investigation base can use a high speed frequency scanner to monitor lower frequency amateur radio and citizens band radio communications to see if local transmissions or ionospheric radio wave propagation transmissions coincide with readings on your paranormal investigation equipment. In addition get yourself some Faraday bags to help shield your voice recorders. As an investigator you can make the extra effort to protect your evidence and help weed out false positives.