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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California has experienced unprecedented rain lately, but the state is still in a drought. So why can't the rain falling now be saved for later?

By Andrew Fisher

Fresh snow muffles ambient sound immediately after it falls, but the quiet doesn't last very long.

By Jesslyn Shields

Picture a hay bale, a paper towel roll, a roll of sod or a flaky doughnut. Now picture it made out of snow. That's a snow roller.

By Dylan Ris

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Not to be confused with sleet, graupel is actually an interesting mix of snow and ice. But it's not hail. Graupel, get to know it.

By Laurie L. Dove

A geomagnetic storm could cause a spectacular aurora borealis Aug. 18 and 19 over parts of the continental United States, as far south as Illinois.

By Sarah Gleim

Mammatus clouds, which are made from falling air instead of rising air, are one of the most spectacular cloud formations you'll ever see.

By Jesslyn Shields

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

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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 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

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

The balance between Earth's incoming and outgoing energy is known as its "energy budget" and the climate is determined by these energy flows. The balance is out of whack and that's not good.

By Scott Denning

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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

In 2014, scientists observed a space hurricane for the first time; they reported their findings this year. But what's a space hurricane — and do we on Earth have to worry about with them?

By Valerie Stimac

Dusk is a beautiful time of day. So is twilight. But when does one turn into the other? And did you know there were three versions of each?

By Valerie Stimac

It might seem that the constant rushing of water over a falls would keep it from freezing, but that isn't always the case. Check out the science behind the phenomenon of the frozen waterfall.

By Mark Mancini

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A single stalk of corn can create its own microclimate. But what is a microclimate, and why do they even matter?

By Mark Mancini

These annual winds blow during Southern California's dangerous dry season, whipping up wildfires that can ravage thousands of acres.

By John Donovan

While most of the rest of the world has switched to Celsius, the U.S. continues to use the Fahrenheit temperature scale, apparently out of simple inertia.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The simple explanation is you have to be in just the right spot and the conditions have to be perfect for you to see the entire 360 degrees.

By Mark Mancini

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Auroras are one of the best parts about living on a planet with a global magnetic field. And they still puzzle space weather experts.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

Whenever a winter is exceptionally cold, the term "polar vortex" gets thrown around, causing many to wonder if it is a new weather phenomenon. Actually, the polar vortex is always with us – just usually with a lower profile.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

You may never see it happen live, but if you do, consider yourself lucky. Because this meteorological phenomenon doesn't happen very often.

By Mark Mancini

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This ice-age asteroid crater isn't just the first of its kind. It may also be the smoking gun about what triggered the Younger Dryas, one of the most well-known examples of abrupt climate change.

By Mark Mancini

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

By Mark Mancini