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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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What if a plane landed in San Francisco at the same time there was a big earthquake?

San Francisco has a new airport that's supposed to stand up to the rigors of an earthquake. Does that mean that planes can land while a massive quake is shaking the city?

Can I get struck by lightning when I'm indoors?

You’ve heard the warnings about thunderstorms: Stay out of the tub, unplug your TV and don’t call people from your land line. But can you really get struck by lightning while you’re inside?

What if an Asteroid Hit Earth?

There are obvious craters on Earth (and the moon) that show us a long history of large objects hitting the planet. But what if one hit Earth today?

12 of the Most Destructive Earthquakes

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.

15 Tornado Safety Tips

Tornadoes are dangerous things, so it's important for you and your family to be prepared in the event of one. The United States experiences more tornadoes than the rest of the world due to low-lying geography. See our list of 15 tornado safety tips.

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.

Mount St. Helens Erupts

The Mount St. Helens eruption resulted in almost 60 deaths. Learn more about the Mount St. Helens eruption, from how it happened to the aftereffects.

How Avalanches Work

Learn how avalanches form, how long you can stay alive while buried under an avalanche and what steps you can take to survive.

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 Tsunamis Work

The wall of water that struck northern Japan on March 11 claimed more than nearly 16,000 lives. While the human and cultural extents of this natural disaster are difficult to grasp, we can explain the physical properties that led to it.

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?

Are there more floods now than there used to be?

I read 'How Floods Work,' but I still have a question: Why are there so many more floods now? It seems like there are floods all the time, and it didn't used to be that way. Is it raining more?

How Floods Work

Flooding has claimed more lives than any other natural disaster. Find out how a gentle stream becomes a raging torrent.

How Wildfires Work

The raging wildfires in southern California have claimed lives and destroyed hundreds of homes. Learn how wildfires start and spread, and find out what firefighters do to battle the blaze.

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?

Is it true that scientists are predicting a really big earthquake will sink western California?

Is it true that scientists are predicting a really big earthquake will sink western California into the ocean, or break it off from the continent?

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?

How Earthquakes Work

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.

How Volcanoes Work

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.

Why Is Snow White?

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

What Causes Petrichor, the Earthy Smell After Rain?

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

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?

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