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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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, and that's not good.

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

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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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

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

By Mark Mancini

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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

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.

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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

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

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

By Mark Mancini

Noctilucent clouds form at high altitudes when drifting particles become coated with ice crystals at low temperatures.

By Mark Mancini

It's sometimes easy to confuse the two, but weather and climate are very different things.

By Patrick J. Kiger

The evidence is clear: Human activities — like the burning of fossil fuels — are the main driving force behind modern climate change.

By Mark Mancini

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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

The danger to the iconic statues is now greater than ever due to erosion and higher-energy wave action caused by climate change.

By Amanda Onion

Red snow? Yes. It totally exists. And while it might look cool, it's not exactly what you want to see from Mother Nature.

By Mark Mancini

The four seasons experienced by Earth's midlatitude regions are being gradually altered by global warming — but a climate expert says they won't completely go away.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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A new model describes in more detail how the Chicxulub asteroid affected our planet, from dropping temperatures to pausing photosynthesis, with soot playing an integral part.

By Jesslyn Shields

Very specific atmospheric conditions and just the right perspective are necessary to see the phenomenon.

By Patrick J. Kiger