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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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

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Smartphone cameras enable us to take striking pictures of strange atmospheric phenomena—though we don’t always know what we’re seeing.

By Patrick J. Kiger

A double rainbow, man! Just the sight of one can send us babbling into happiness. And why not? Rainbows are beautiful. And two rainbows at the same time? Even better. But just how rare are these colorful arcs?

By Kate Kershner

The longer ice bounces around in storm clouds, the bigger the hailstones will be when they fall to Earth. Drag that process out for a while, and comparisons to mere golf balls just won't cut it.

By Oisin Curran

If the legend is true, at the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold. Does that mean if triple rainbows exist, you'll find three pots of gold?

By Kate Kershner

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One of the best things about autumn is watching the leaves change color – fiery hues lining the landscape, ushering in cooler weather. Some say a rainy summer leads to an extra-vivid leaf show. Is that true?

By Kate Kershner

Your grandfather may swear that he can feel the onset of a harsh winter in his bones — and your family may swear it's true — but a lot of us would prefer a more scientific method for predicting what the winter may have in store for us.

By Kate Kershner

We humans have figured out a lot of strange ways to measure the weather. A cricket's chirps can tell us the temperature. The open scales on a pinecone signal a dry spell. But can a ring around the moon really predict rainy days ahead?

By Kate Kershner

It sure would be handy to know what the weather is going to be like for the next year. Unfortunately, there's just one problem: Weather is notoriously difficult to predict. So is the Farmers' Almanac accurate, or is it just blowing hot air?

By Kate Kershner

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If humid air is just air plus water, then it has to be heavier than dry air, right? Sure, if it was only a matter of simple addition, but molecular physics is a lot like a bouncer at a club: Nothing gets in unless something else goes out.

By Kate Kershner

Admit it: You'd be just a little freaked out if you looked up at the night sky and saw a weird glowing spiral stretching out before you. In 2009, many claimed to witness exactly such a phenomenon, but were they spinning yarns or telling the truth?

By Kate Kershner

What is the strangest weather-related thing that could happen? Raining frogs? A triple rainbow? Or something else?

By Kate Kershner

Did you know no two people see the same rainbow? Or that they contain 1 million colors — not just the handful we learn in school? Find out how to make your own rainbow — or, if you’d rather, how to make one disappear.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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Ever hear that saying that a cow lies down when rain is coming? This superstition may not be as udderly ridiculous as you think.

By Nicholas Gerbis

You've probably heard that no two snowflakes are alike, but can that be true? Find out how molecules of water vapor come together to form these winter wonders.

By Nathan Chandler

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

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If you've ever spied a night sky splashed with vivid billows of color, either you have access to interesting drugs or you've seen an aurora firsthand. If it's the latter, your sky-gazing probably took place during spring or autumn. How come?

By Kate Kershner

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

Who likes getting caught in a downpour without an umbrella? Not this guy and not us. Are we ever going to achieve rainmaker status so we can dial up a few gentle showers one day and a blast of sunshine the next?

By William Harris

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

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Why are there so many pictures of rainbows? And what’s on the other side? Hum along with us as you browse through a few snaps of one of nature’s most beautiful effects.

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

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