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Articles on Atmospheric science

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Lightning during a monsoon storm in southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park. Pete Gregoire, NOAA

Monsoons make deserts bloom in the US Southwest, but climate change is making these summer rainfalls more extreme and erratic

Monsoons are weather patterns that bring thunderstorms and heavy rains to hot, dry areas when warm, moist ocean air moves inland. They’re challenging to forecast, especially in a changing climate.
Temperatures in normally warm Texas plunged into the teens in February 2021, knocking out power for a population unaccustomed to cold, with deadly consequences. Thomas Shea / AFP via Getty Images

How Arctic warming can trigger extreme cold waves like the Texas freeze – a new study makes the connection

Counter to what you might expect, events like the February cold wave that froze Texas can actually become more likely with global warming.
In high alpine terrain, sun and dry air can turn snow straight into water vapor. Jeffrey Pang/WikimediaCommons

Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather

As rivers run dry in the Rocky Mountains and the West, it’s easy to wonder where all the snow you see on mountain peaks goes. Some of it ends up in the air, but researchers aren’t sure how much.
Mars northern polar cap, photographed by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Why is there so little water left on Mars?

New results show why and how water is disappearing from Mars atmosphere.
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.

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