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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Auroras are stunning natural light shows that are visible only in certain parts of the world at certain times of the year. Where can you go to see one?

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

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


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

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

A rainbow's ability to bring joy to just about anyone is probably why they're painted on kids' cheeks at fairs. But, what do rainbows mean? In this article, we'll look at rainbow symbolism from around the world.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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

By Nathan Chandler


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

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

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

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


One of the best things about autumn is watching the leaves change color to fiery hues of red, gold and orange. Some say a rainy summer leads to an extra-vivid leaf show. Is that true?

By Kate Kershner

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Bluebirds symbolize optimism, happiness and hope for the future. For skiers, a "bluebird day" bodes well for a great day on the slopes, but hunters and anglers may as well stay home.

By Thomas Harlander

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


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 & Desiree Bowie

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