- Conspiracy theorists are blaming the U.S. Air Force’s High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) for an increase in natural disasters, especially the recent Turkey and Syria earthquakes.
- The HAARP program, which is based in Alaska, studies the properties and behavior of Earth’s atmosphere.
- HAARP can “excite” the atmosphere for scientific study.
Leave it to conspiracy theorists to take a little-understood technology and accuse it of high-level devastation. The latest conspiracy theory blames the United States Air Force’s High-frequency Active Auroroal Research Program (HAARP) for the tragic recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
But the greater mystery here may be just how the conspiracy theorists landed on a program that’s designed to study the atmosphere having an impact below the ground.
The Air Force Research Laboratory owns the HAARP research facility, located near Gakona, Alaska, which was constructed in the 1990s and is now operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Researchers at HAARP use a powerful high-frequency transmitter and an array of 180 HF crossed-dipole antennas to temporarily disrupt the ionosphere—the outermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere above the mesosphere, about 50 to 400 miles from Earth’s surface—in hopes of yielding potential communications and surveillance benefits. The ionosphere features a high concentration of ions and free electrons that reflects radio waves.
And that’s where people start using their imaginations. The conspiracy theorists believe that HAARP, for some reason, causes an increase in lightning across the world, which somehow then leads to earthquakes like the ones in Turkey and Syria. It seems that these believers like to tie HAARP to any natural disaster, simply saying that the U.S. or global partners can place undue influence on all natural events simply by employing HAARP’s capabilities.
The truth? Scientists say that not only does HAARP not impact weather patterns, but it has nothing to do with earthquakes. Period.
The transmitted frequencies from HAARP are possible in the range of 2.7 to 10 MHz, and since the antennas form a sophisticated phased array, the beam can take many shapes, scan over a wide angular range, or split into multiple beams. In all, the HAARP facility uses 30 transmitter shelters, each with six pairs of 10-kilowatt transmitters.
Scientists at HAARP use HF radio transmitters to heat small regions of the ionosphere to observe the effects. Using HAARP speeds up a process that can take satellites weeks or years to observe. “With a facility like HAARP,” the University of Alaska Fairbanks says, “it is possible to perform an experiment at will to create plasma structures and irregularities, use the ionosphere like an antenna to excite low-frequency waves, create weak luminous aurora-like glows, and a variety of other experiments.”
Scientists observe the physical processes that occur within the excited regions. “Observation of the processes resulting from the use of the IRI in a controlled manner will allow scientists to better understand processes that occur continuously under the natural simulation of the sun,” the program says.
For a deep dive into what actually happened in Turkey and Syria this week, read PopMech’s new feature.