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Science | Forces of Nature | 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.


Will the U.S. be a desert in 50 years?

 Will the U.S. be a desert in 50 years?

Will the U.S. be a desert in 50 years? Learn about the chances of the U.S. becoming a desert in the next 50 years. See more »

Does ball lightning really exist?

 Does ball lightning really exist?

Ball lightning wasn't widely believed to exist until the 1960s. Learn about ball lightning and theories about what ball lightning could be. See more »

How Clouds Work

 How Clouds Work

Clouds provide precipitation, shade and a stable climate. Learn about clouds and why clouds are more than just cotton balls in the sky. See more »

How Auroras Work

 How Auroras Work

An aurora is a light phenomenon caused by solar winds interacting with the Earth's magnetic field. Learn more about auroras. See more »

How Acid Rain Works

 How Acid Rain Works

Acid rain is caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants, cars and factories. Find out how acid rain is produced. 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 »

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?

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

 Why is snow white?

Why is snow white? It's frozen water, and water isn't white, it's clear. Learn why snow is white by examining the frequencies of light and how they're absorbed. See more »

What causes the smell after rain?

 What causes the smell after rain?

I've noticed a lot of times, especially in the spring and summer, that there is a strong, funny smell after it rains. Sometimes it is a good smell, and sometimes it is unpleasant. What causes this smell? See more »