ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

The atmosphere is the key to life on Earth. This thin layer is what protects us from the hostile environment of space. Here you can learn all about the atmospheric sciences.
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Does a wet summer mean a brilliant fall?

One of the best things about autumn is watching the leaves change color – fiery hues lining the landscape, ushering in cooler weather. Some say a rainy summer leads to an extra-vivid leaf show. Is that true?

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  • Is humid air heavier than dry air?

    Is humid air heavier than dry air?

    If humid air is just air plus water, then it has to be heavier than dry air, right? Sure, if it was only a matter of simple addition, but molecular physics is a lot like a bouncer at a club: Nothing gets in unless something else goes out. See more »

  • Is the cloud spiral phenomenon real?

    Is the cloud spiral phenomenon real?

    Admit it: You'd be just a little freaked out if you looked up at the night sky and saw a weird glowing spiral stretching out before you. In 2009, many claimed to witness exactly such a phenomenon, but were they spinning yarns or telling the truth? See more »

  • What causes a rainbow?

    What causes a rainbow?

    We can usually see rainbows right after a rainstorm on a warm Spring day. These giant colorful arcs stand out against the dark rain clouds. Have you ever wondered what causes this phenomena? Find out how rainbows are created in this article from HowStuffWorks. See more »

  • What causes the seasons?

    What causes the seasons?

    What causes the seasons? Why are the seasons reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres? And if the Earth moves in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, why don't we have two summers and two winters every year? See more »

  • What causes the smell after rain?

    What causes the smell after rain?

    Especially in the spring and summer, there's often a strong, funny smell right after it rains. What's behind "rain smell"? See more »

  • What does it mean when a barometer is rising or falling?

    What does it mean when a barometer is rising or falling?

    Barometers are used to predict the weather. What exactly does it mean when the weatherman says the barometer is rising or falling? See more »

  • What is relative humidity and how does it affect how I feel outside?

    What is relative humidity and how does it affect how I feel outside?

    We hear about humidity in just about every weather report on the nightly news. There are several different ways meteorologists measure humidity, but relative humidity is the most common measurement. What is relative humidity, though? Find out in this See more »

  • What is St. Elmo's Fire?

    What is St. Elmo's Fire?

    Sometimes a lightning storm heralds sightings of St. Elmo's Fire. What causes the mysterious glow sailors interpreted as a sign of salvation? See more »

  • What is the heat index that the weatherperson talks about during the summer?

    What is the heat index that the weatherperson talks about during the summer?

    What is the "heat index" that the weatherperson talks about during the summer? Also, why is the air comfortable at only 80 degrees F even though body temperature is 98 degrees F? See more »

  • What is the rarest weather phenomenon?

    What is the rarest weather phenomenon?

    What is the strangest weather-related thing that could happen? Raining frogs? A triple rainbow? Or something else? See more »

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