Climate & Weather

Atmospheric sciences help us understand and predict the weather. Learn about topics such as the seasons, why it snows, and how rainbows are formed.

Topics to Explore

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Can it really rain frogs?

A heavy rain in which frogs come plummeting down isn't a pretty sight, but it happens more often than you'd think. Why do animals sometimes fall from the sky?

Storm Pictures

Thunderstorms are impressive and destructive elements of nature. This collection of images highlights some of the most spectacular features of storms.

Is there really a "calm before the storm"?

The birds stop chirping, and the wind chimes are silent. This eerie calm that's invaded your neighborhood is just a temporary pause before the shrills and shrieks of the incoming storm.

10 Most Destructive Storms

Witch homicide aside, Dorothy was lucky that her home safely traveled to Oz after the tornado. Many people who lived through the storms on our list were left with nothing.

Can animals predict the weather?

Can Fido predict an incoming tornado? If animals can predict the weather, do we stop trusting the weatherman and start visiting the zoo to get tomorrow's forecast?

How Clouds Work

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?

How Storm Chasers Work

If a tornado was heading your way, you'd probably head for the hills. But for some people, it's just the beginning of a chase.

Lightning Pictures

Some of the most dramatic displays of nature can be found in the form of lightning bolts. This stunning image gallery showcases this fascinating phenomena.

How Auroras Work

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?

What if I were struck by lightning?

Being struck by lightning is a little more complicated than a sudden collision with a flash of light from the sky. How can someone survive such a jolt?

How Acid Rain Works

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.

Can China control the weather?

As a dominant world power, there's not much that China doesn't affect or control outright these days, including the weather. How did the superpower produce flawless skies for the biggest party of the year?

How could it rain for 45 straight days?

For three years, ending in the spring of 2007, the state of Texas experienced a terrible drought. When a large storm system settled over the state late that spring, many Texans rejoiced. But then the rain continued. And continued. For 45 days, it didn't stop.

How the Tornado Intercept Vehicle Works

Tornado chasers generally stay about a mile away from the tornado itself -- but not IMAX cinematographer Sean Casey. He has built a Tornado Intercept Vehicle and hopes to withstand a direct hit. Check it out.

How Rainbows Work

Rainbows are one of nature's most beautiful effects. Have you ever wondered how the colors end up in seemingly perfect bands? And, what about double rainbows -- how does that happen? Find out how rain and sun can align to put color in the sky.

Why does the sky get dark at night?

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?

What Is Relative Humidity and How Does it Affect How I Feel Outside?

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?

Why are there more thunderstorms during the summer?

Around 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring on the Earth at any given time. However, they typically only occur in the warmer parts of the planet. Why does warm weather spawn more thunderstorms than colder weather?

Why do bridges ice before the rest of the highway?

I've noticed signs on the highway that warn "Bridge Ices Before Road." What causes bridges to ice before the rest of the highway?

Why is snow white?

Why is snow white? It's frozen water, and water isn't white, it's clear.

What causes the smell after rain?

Especially in the spring and summer, there's often a strong, funny smell right after it rains. What's behind "rain smell"?

How does the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights) work?

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 the UV index and how is it calculated?

Every night on the news, the weatherperson reports the UV index. What is the UV index and how is it calculated?

What causes the seasons?

What causes the seasons? Why are the seasons reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres? And if the Earth moves in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, why don't we have two summers and two winters every year?

What is the heat index that the weatherperson talks about during the summer?

What is the "heat index" that the weatherperson talks about during the summer? Also, why is the air comfortable at only 80 degrees F even though body temperature is 98 degrees F?


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