Natural Disasters

Unpredictable forces of nature like tornadoes and hurricanes can have a devastating impact on humans and our environment. Learn how natural disasters work and how science aims to better predict them.

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Mauna Loa is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years. Hawaii's volcanoes are different from most others, and that has to do with its magma chambers.

By Gabi Laske

Flash droughts start and intensify quickly over periods of weeks to months, compared to years or decades for conventional droughts.

By Antonia Hadjimichael

Your home is your most important asset. So shouldn't you know how likely it is to flood or burn in a wildfire? This interactive website will tell you. And it includes the effects of climate change in its answer.

By Jennifer Walker-Journey


Wildfires burning across the Western United States don't just destroy crops. The smoke can also impact the way vegetation photosynthesizes. But it's not all bad news.

By Allison Troutner

Wildfires burning in Russia, particularly Siberia, have been unprecedented in 2021. What is sparking the outbreaks, and why are they so bad this year?

By Stephanie Parker

The effects of wildfire smoke are different than those of other types of air pollution. But just how harmful to humans is it?

By Luke Montrose

Nearly 90 percent of the Western U.S. is gripped by an "apocalyptical" drought that only continues to worsen. Even if you don't live in the area, it affects you — and what you do affects it.

By Joanna Thompson


The truth is your chances of having one of these mega-floods hit are the same every year: 1 percent.

By Robert Mace

The May 22, 2021 eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed at least 32 people and caused tens of thousands to flee the area. Why is this volcano so especially dangerous?

By Paolo Papale

The 1883 Krakatoa eruption was gigantic and deadly, but the advent of modern communications and mass media helped to make it one of the earliest and best-known modern natural catastrophes.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Both are destructive storms that can pack powerful winds and devastating storm surge. So how are they different? Or are they?

By Stephanie Vermillion


Dozens of wildfires have scorched millions of acres in the western U.S. this year. One Oregonian tells what it's like living through the record season and if it's a preview of what's to come.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Much of the globe is gripped by a heat wave, and scientists say the world can expect more of these grueling hot temperatures in the future. Here's how to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe.

By Sarah Gleim

The fire under the tiny town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, has been burning since at least 1962 and, to this day, nobody knows how to put it out.

By Mark Mancini

These massive clouds form when wildfires give off intense heat and cause smoke and hot air to rise. Though rare, climate change may be making conditions favorable for more to form.

By Jenessa Duncombe


While Australia continues to burn out of control, New Jersey officials are warning that the Garden State is full of the same dense brush fueling the fires down under. Could similar wildfires consume New Jersey?

By Michael Sol Warren

Wildfires have become a frightening reality in California and elsewhere as climate change creates drastically drier conditions. Using goats to eat underbrush and create firebreaks is now a routine part of the firefighting arsenal.

By Patty Rasmussen

Is climate change to blame for king tides flooding coastal cities more often? Some scientists say yes.

By John Perritano

The San Andreas is one of the most famous and closely watched fault lines in the world because of the fear that it is overdue for the next big quake.

By Patrick J. Kiger


NOAA is expecting widespread flooding throughout the United States this spring. Are you ready?

By Oisin Curran

From hurricanes, to earthquakes, to tornadoes, there's no shortage of potential disasters that can ruin homes and devastate lives. Think you’re ready to survive the next disaster? Take this quiz and find out.

By Nathan Chandler

A fire can burn for years, yes years, in a swamp. What's the deal?

By Mark Mancini

Both dry and over-saturated soil can contribute to flash flooding. Can anything be done to prevent them from becoming catastrophic?

By Mark Mancini


To date 14 massive fissures have opened up near Kilauea, and the Big Island has been rocked by repeated earthquakes. Do these geological events foreshadow a massive volcanic eruption?

By Mark Mancini

We may not be able to hear infrasound, but we sure can use it to detect tornadoes.

By Christopher Hassiotis