Context: A detailed understanding of the physical processes that determine the damping timescales of magneto-acoustic waves is essential to interpret diagnostic results from the application of solar magneto-seismology.
Aims: The influence of the transition region and the importance of radiative emission, arising from equilibrium and non-equilibrium ionisation balances, for the damping timescale of the fundamental mode standing acoustic wave is investigated.
Methods: An extensive numerical study, in the framework of the field-aligned hydrodynamic approximation, is carried out of the damping of the fundamental mode standing wave in a solar coronal loop, for a wide range of loop lengths and apex temperatures.
Results: It was found that the radiative emission arising from a non-equilibrium ionisation balance will always act to reduce the damping timescale (in comparison to the equilibrium case) and may do so by up to ~10%. The physics of the transition region is most crucial in determining the magnitude of the reduction of the damping timescale when a non-equilibrium ionisation balance is properly accounted for.
Conclusions: The methods of solar magneto-seismology, in particular the tools of coronal seismology, may be used to estimate loop lengths to a reasonable degree of accuracy, although estimates of the apex temperature are significantly less reliable, and one should use alternative (e.g. spectroscopic) diagnostics instead.