Forces of Nature

We see the destruction that the Earth can unleash in the news on a regular basis. Here you can learn about hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other forces of nature.

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Iceland? The North Pole? Antarctica? There are a lot of super cold places on this planet, but which one can claim bragging rights as the coldest place on Earth?

By Mark Mancini

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

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.

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Earthquakes and their resulting aftershocks can be devastatingly destructive. Earthquakes are caused when a fault in the Earth's crust slips, which releases energy waves in the ground. Find a list of 12 of the most destructive earthquakes in history.

By the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

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.

By Ed Grabianowski

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

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.

By Jessika Toothman & Nicholas Gerbis

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Mount Vesuvius, located near Naples, Italy, is one of the world's most iconic active volcanoes, renowned for its historic eruption that buried Pompeii. Discover its history, significance, and natural beauty.

By Cristen Conger

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.

By Jessika Toothman

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 & Austin Henderson

Many cultures have a flood myth -- an ancient story of a deluge that swallowed the Earth. So could a great flood really have happened, and how would we be able to tell?

By Maria Trimarchi

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It may seem like a perfectly reckless display of aeronautical wiles, but guiding an airplane into a swirling beast of a hurricane gleans data that can save lives. The only question is, who were the crazy mavericks who attempted it first?

By Josh Clark

Being struck by lightning is a little more complicated than a sudden collision with a flash of light from the sky, and not all strikes are equally lethal.

By Katherine Neer

Before barometers and thermometers, people looked to the land and local lore to predict rain or shine. Have sophisticated statistical models and measuring tools changed the art of forecasting the weather that much?

By Robert Lamb

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

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Folks in Montana usually expect snow or rain to fall from the sky, not ash. But the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington flung ash across state lines. What is this gritty, gray stuff?

By Robert Lamb

Heavy snowfall is just one mark of a bad snowstorm. But the biggest snowstorms of all time also brought strong winds and in some cases, major power outages.

By Ed Grabianowski, Sarah Gleim & Jesslyn Shields

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 HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

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If the big one struck, would you be ready? No? Then start reading and stocking up on food, water and other essential supplies. And hurry up. For some of you, it's not "if" but "when."

By Jacob Silverman

Human activities (such as leaving a campfire unattended, discarding lit cigarettes, debris burning and intentional arson) are among the top causes of wildfires.

By Jessika Toothman & Yara Simón

At some point in your life, a coach may have enthusiastically told you to "fight fire with fire." Coach, of course, was speaking metaphorically. Do firefighters actually employ this strategy?

By Robert Lamb

Volcanoes are some of nature's most awe-inspiring displays, with everything from exploding mountaintops to rivers of lava. Learn how all the different types of volcanoes work.

By Tom Harris

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An earthquake is one of the most terrifying phenomena that nature can dish up. We generally think of the ground we stand on as "rock-solid" and completely stable. An earthquake can shatter that perception instantly, and often with extreme violence.

By Tom Harris & Patrick J. Kiger

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