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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Did you know that some places on Earth can get so hot that local wildlife has evolved specifically to survive the extreme conditions? In these regions, the heat isn't just a summer wave; it's a constant presence.

By Desiree Bowie

Ice cubes usually look cloudy and opaque in the middle, despite the fact that water is clear. What's the deal?

By Mark Mancini

More than two centuries ago, the biggest volcanic explosion in human history occurred. And it had far-reaching effects.

By Kate Kershner

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

By Laurie L. Dove

Auroras themselves aren't rare, but spotting one can be tricky: You need a clear, dark sky within one of the auroral zones. What are 10 spots that up the odds a bit?

By Julia Layton

When climate variations mix with unsustainable agriculture and urbanization, vast swaths of once-fertile lands transform into deserts. Is the U.S. in danger of becoming a dried-up wasteland?

By Maria Trimarchi

You may have noticed signs on the highway that warn "Bridge Ices Before Road." What causes this to happen?

By Kathryn Whitbourne

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Snow is nothing more than frozen water, and water is clear, not white. But snow is bright white. How?

By Allison Loudermilk

What is "wind chill"? Does it have any effect on inanimate objects?

They're an odd enough sight in the sky to make you do a double take. Ready for the "super cool" explanation behind hole-punch clouds?

By Allison Troutner

Iceland? The North Pole? Antarctica? There are a lot of super cold places on this planet, but which one can claim bragging rights as the coldest place on Earth?

By Mark Mancini

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A perfect climate means different things to different people. These 10 countries span the globe and offer a wide range of climates to satisfy any taste -- hot, cold or in-between.

By Jennifer Horton

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, how it affects natural and man-made objects and how governments aim to reduce it.

By Sarah Dowdey

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?

By Nathan Chandler

Did bunnies just attack that sailboat, or was it a narwhal playing with a school of fish? Are you going crazy, or are you just watching the clouds?

By Jessika Toothman

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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.

By Robert Lamb

Ball lightning can float through the air, pass through walls and even kill you. What could it be, and why are scientists finally accepting this strange meteorological phenomenon?

By Maria Trimarchi & Austin Henderson

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

By Julia Layton

We've all probably looked up and wondered why the sky is blue instead of, say, brown. The sky is blue because of the way Earth's atmosphere scatters light from the sun.

By Nicholas Gerbis

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Every night on the news, the weatherperson reports the UV index. What is the UV index and how is it calculated?

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?

By Sascha Bos

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, so shouldn't it be hotter at the top of a mountain?

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

Precipitation can vary from rain to snow when the temperature is below freezing. Why does precipitation not always fall as snow when it's below freezing?

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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.

By Austin Henderson

There's often a strong, quite pleasant, smell right after a rain shower. What accounts for petrichor, the 'smell of rain'?

By Kathryn Whitbourne & Desiree Bowie