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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How Weather Works

You might think of weather as something that happens around your life. It could prevent you from taking a bike ride or inspire you grab an umbrella on your way out. But there's more to weather than its ability to thwart the best-laid plans.

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  • What’s a polar vortex?

    What’s a polar vortex?

    During the unusually cold winter of 2014, the term "polar vortex" got quite a workout, causing many to wonder if it was a new weather phenomenon. Actually, the polar vortex is always with us – just usually with a lower profile. But will that change? See more »

  • Why are the auroras seasonal?

    Why are the auroras seasonal?

    If you've ever spied a night sky splashed with vivid billows of color, either you have access to interesting drugs or you've seen an aurora firsthand. If it's the latter, your sky-gazing probably took place during spring or autumn. How come? See more »

  • Why can't scientists accurately predict the weather?

    Why can't scientists accurately predict the weather?

    We can put a person on the moon. We can zip particles around accelerators at insanely high speeds. But nope, we cannot tell you for sure whether you'll need that animal print umbrella tomorrow. Why not? See more »

  • Why do bridges ice before the rest of the highway?

    Why do bridges ice before the rest of the highway?

    I've noticed signs on the highway that warn "Bridge Ices Before Road." What causes bridges to ice before the rest of the highway? See more »

  • Why do they use salt to melt ice on the road in the winter?

    Why do they use salt to melt ice on the road in the winter?

    Salt is often sprinkled on the roads in the winter to melt the ice. Have you ever wondered why salt is used? See more »

  • Why does humidity make my hair frizz?

    Why does humidity make my hair frizz?

    Nothing ruins a good hair day like humidity, especially if your hair is dry and overprocessed. What's the science behind the frizz? See more »

  • Why does the sky get dark at night?

    Why does the sky get dark at night?

    Why does the sky get dark at night? Don't tell me it's just because the Earth rotates and the sun sets -- what I mean is, with all of its stars and other luminous bodies, why isn't the universe infinitely bright? See more »

  • Why is it colder at the top of a mountain than it is at sea level?

    Why is it colder at the top of a mountain than it is at sea level?

    Why is it colder at the top of a mountain than it is at sea level? Heat rises, and the top of a mountain is closer to the sun -- shouldn't it be hotter at the top of a mountain? See more »

  • Why is snow white?

    Why is snow white?

    Why is snow white? It's frozen water, and water isn't white, it's clear. See more »

  • Why is the sky blue?

    Why is the sky blue?

    Chances are you could formulate a reasonably well-informed guess. Why not read the article and get the definitive answer? See more »

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