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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Words matter when talking about those seeking shelter from the storm. What's the difference between hurricane evacuees and refugees?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Historic Hurricane Irma is being supercharged by the effects of climate change heating Earth's oceans.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

'You really can't describe to anybody what it's like to sit through a hurricane,' says Ruth Clark, who lived through Hurricanes Camille and Katrina.

By Dave Roos

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Hurricanes are the strongest storms on the planet. How we categorize them has helped save lives.

By John Perritano

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

A new model describes in more detail how the Chicxulub asteroid affected our planet, from dropping temperatures to pausing photosynthesis, with soot playing an integral part.

By Jesslyn Shields

Very specific atmospheric conditions and just the right perspective are necessary to see the phenomenon.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Polar temperatures are changing more rapidly than equatorial ones, making the jet stream slower and wider, and extreme events longer-lasting.

By Jesslyn Shields

Explosive solar events are bad news for Earth, so it's good to keep an eye on space weather. Newly discovered "Rossby-like" waves could help them out with that big job.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

We've all seen shots of meteorologists fighting gale-force winds to report on storms. So just how high can the winds get before the reporters are knocked off their feet?

By John Perritano

Earth's atmosphere used to be full of toxic hydrogen, but a brief period of methane smog cleared the way for valuable oxygen to set up shop.

By Jesslyn Shields

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The atmosphere protects those of us here on land from cosmic radiation. So what about those who spend time above the clouds?

By Patrick J. Kiger

Researchers from Montreal's Concordia University have figured out why the air inside a tornado vortex is cooler and less dense than the surrounding air.

By Patrick J. Kiger

What happens when two unpredictable storms show up to dance? And what about when one finally heads out to sea — then abruptly turns inland again for a one-two punch?

By Jesslyn Shields

It's every evil mad scientist's dream. Could it ever be a reality?

By Julia Layton

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According to Chinese mythology, a great flood once swept the land. Now geologists have found reason to believe that the legendary catastrophe was real.

By Robert Lamb

More than two centuries ago, the biggest volcanic explosion in human history occurred. And it had far-reaching effects.

By Kate Kershner

Trying to wrangle Mother Nature has successfully saved millions of lives, even if, at other times, it's quite literally blown up in our faces.

By Clint Pumphrey

Billions of years ago, asteroid strikes caused mega-tsunamis made up of liquid water and frozen ice, scarring the red planet forever, according to new findings.

By Christopher Hassiotis

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El Nino is anything but child's play when it comes to affecting the globe's weather — and, in turn, our economies, health and safety.

By Clint Pumphrey

Frogs! Fish! Birds! A surprising number of things have rained down from the sky besides water. But how?

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

Smartphone cameras enable us to take striking pictures of strange atmospheric phenomena—though we don’t always know what we’re seeing.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Thunder in the winter is a pretty cool phenomenon. It's unexpected, plus some say when you hear it, snow will arrive within seven days. If you hear thunder during the winter, should you get your snow shovel ready?

By Kate Kershner

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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

You've always heard that lightning never strikes the same spot twice. So if that tree stump in the yard was struck during a storm, why not just go sit there during the next storm? You're safe, right? You might want to rethink that.

By Kate Kershner