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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Home runs are on the rise in Major League Baseball, and scientists say that climate change is responsible for the uptick in huge hits.

By Christopher W. Callahan & Justin S. Mankin

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

By Mark Mancini

Earth's atmosphere used to be full of toxic hydrogen, but a brief period of methane smog cleared the way for valuable oxygen to set up shop.

By Jesslyn Shields


The atmosphere protects those of us here on land from cosmic radiation. So what about those who spend time above the clouds?

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Kate Kershner

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


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?

By William Harris

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

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?

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

By Kathryn Whitbourne


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?

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 Contributors

Atmospheric rivers, also known as "Pineapple Express" storms, are key to the global water cycle, particularly in the western United States. But with a warming climate, their intensity could get much worse.

By Tom Corringham


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

The year 2020 saw some of the biggest lightning flashes ever recorded by humankind, called "megaflashes." But how much bigger is a megaflash than a regular bolt of lightning?

By Carrie Tatro

The goal of a chief heat officer is a big one: to mitigate the fallout of climate change, particularly as it relates to unfair distribution of risk based on income and social status.

By Laurie L. Dove

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


The balance between Earth's incoming and outgoing energy is known as its "energy budget". Learn what's happening to it.

By Scott Denning

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

Rock salt is the go-to for melting ice on the roadways. But why?

By Contributors

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


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

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