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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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 ā€” not just the handful we learn in school? Find out how to make your own rainbow ā€” or, if youā€™d rather, how to make one disappear.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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

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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

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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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

Ball lightning can float through the air, pass through walls and even kill you. What could it be, and why are scientists finally accepting this strange meteorological phenomenon?

By Maria Trimarchi

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Sometimes a lightning storm heralds sightings of St. Elmo's Fire. What causes the mysterious glow sailors interpreted as a sign of salvation?

By Julia Layton

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

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.

Acid rain is caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants, cars and factories. Find out how acid rain is produced, how it affects natural and man-made objects and how governments aim to reduce it.

By Sarah Dowdey

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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

There's often a strong, quite pleasant, smell right after a rain shower. What accounts for petrichor, the 'smell of rain'?

By Kathryn Whitbourne

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How does the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights) work? What causes it? Why can you only see it in the North? Are the myths about it producing sound true?

What is "wind chill"? Does it have any effect on inanimate objects?