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Articles on Atmospheric science

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Debris near Lebanon, Tennessee, after tornadoes struck on the night of March 3, 2020, killing more than 20 people across the state. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Wild weather: 4 essential reads about tornadoes and thunderstorms

With the onset of spring come thunderstorms, and sometimes tornadoes. Learn how these systems form and why night tornadoes are especially deadly.
The jet stream can have a big impact on how long a plane ride will last. Aeroprints via Wikimedia Commons

Why does it take longer to fly from east to west on an airplane?

When planes fly from east to west, they are flying against a river of air called a jet stream. These air currents can make your flight longer or shorter, depending on which way you are going.
Sampling wildfire smoke sometimes means sticking a tube out the window of an airplane. Brett Palm/University of Washington

Wildfire smoke changes dramatically as it ages, and that matters for downwind air quality – here’s what we learned flying through smoke plumes

Thousands of chemical compounds in wildfire smoke are interacting with each other and sunlight as the smoke travels. For people downwind, it can become more toxic over time.
Molina speaking about climate change at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico, Nov. 2018. Leonardo Alvarez/Getty Images

Remembering Mario Molina, Nobel Prize-winning chemist who pushed Mexico on clean energy – and, recently, face masks

Molina, who died on Oct. 8, 'thought climate change was the biggest problem in the world long before most people did.' His research on man-made depletion of the ozone layer won the 1995 Nobel Prize.
Ice core analysis can help us better understand historical ‘black swan’ events like pandemics and droughts. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Video: How ancient ice cores show ‘black swan’ events in history – even pandemics

Ice cores can preserve evidence of 'black swan' events like pandemics and droughts, but the glaciers from which they are collected are disappearing.
Not all clouds are the same, and climate models have been predicting the wrong kinds of clouds over the Southern Ocean. Kathryn Moore

We caught bacteria from the most pristine air on earth to help solve a climate modeling mystery

Climate models have been overestimating how much sunlight hits the Southern Ocean. This is because the clouds there are different from clouds anywhere else. Bacterial DNA helped us understand why.
Dangerous winds batter the south coast of England. AP Photo/Matt Dunham

What makes the wind?

Wind travels all over the world. Where does it come from, and why?
The Cape Grim observatory, home of the ‘world’s cleanest air’… and rising greenhouse gases. CSIRO

Why there’s more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere than you may have realised

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are at 414 parts per million. But thanks to a recalculation of methane's warming power, the total amount of greenhouse gases is now equivalent to more than 500.
Blizzard conditions cover the Central and Northern Plains on March 13, 2019. NASA Earth Observatory

Why the Great Plains has such epic weather

What creates such dramatic storms across the US Great Plains? The key factors are topography and temperature differences.

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