Questions tagged [atmospheric-science]

The study of the composition or dynamics of the gaseous layers around planets, often applied to questions on Earth's atmosphere but can be applicable to all planets & moons in the solar system.

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124
votes
15answers
34k views

Is the butterfly effect real?

Is the butterfly effect real? It is a well known statement that a butterfly can, by flapping her wings in a slightly different way, cause a hurricane somewhere else in the world that wouldn't occur if ...
98
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4answers
9k views

Explain it to me like I'm a physics grad: Greenhouse Effect

What is the mechanism by which increasing $\rm CO_2$ (or other greenhouse gases) ends up increasing the temperature at (near) the surface of the Earth? Mostly what I'm looking for is a big-picture ...
91
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8answers
90k views

Why does the atmosphere rotate along with the earth?

I was reading somewhere about a really cheap way of travelling: using balloons to get ourselves away from the surface of the earth. The idea held that because the earth rotates, we should be able to ...
64
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3answers
46k views

Why is the sky not purple?

I realise the question of why this sky is blue is considered reasonably often here, one way or another. You can take that knowledge as given. What I'm wondering is, given that the spectrum of ...
53
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5answers
31k views

Why is the sky never green? It can be blue or orange, and green is in between!

I, like everybody I suppose, have read the explanations why the colour of the sky is blue: ... the two most common types of matter present in the atmosphere are gaseous nitrogen and oxygen. These ...
47
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3answers
3k views

Are there tides in the atmosphere?

Analogous to the tides of Earths oceans, do the Moon and Sun cause our atmosphere to bulge in what could be described as a low and high tide?
42
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5answers
10k views

Why does the sky change color? Why is the sky blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?

Why does the sky change color? Why is the sky blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?
41
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9answers
18k views

Why is air not sucked off the Earth?

People said outside earth is a vacuum. But the air does not get sucked from the Earth's surface. Some said it is due to gravity and some said the speed of air molecules are not high enough to escape....
41
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2answers
4k views

Cause for spikes in Trinity nuclear bomb test

In Richard Rhodes' book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, I was reading about the Trinity nuclear test. High speed photos were taken and this one is from <1ms after the detonation. The book mentions ...
41
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2answers
13k views

Why is the sun brighter in Australia compared to parts of Asia?

Background: I've lived in Philippines for several years, and visited other parts of Asia occasionally (Singapore, Indonesia, Hongkong). I just moved to Western Australia a few months ago and I ...
40
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10answers
24k views

Why can't we see gases?

I am not sure what causes gas molecules to be invisible.This question may look silly but I really want to know the story behind it.
40
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5answers
7k views

Why aren't rainbows more common?

Why are rainbows relatively rare? On any given day, there are billions of water drops in the air of varying sizes and dispersions, all of which light is passing through and refracting. What physical ...
37
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1answer
2k views

Nuclear bomb mushroom cloud with trumpet formation

I have found this specific image here (Loong found out that it is the Soviet Joe 4 test of the 400 kiloton RDS-6 warhead at the Semipalatinsk test site on August 12, 1953): Also an impressive Youtube ...
34
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3answers
11k views

Why does the Earth cool at night time?

I do understand that open water and open ground cools by the means of convection — lower air takes the heat and goes up, where it cools. But why does the Earth lose energy and where does it go? Does ...
31
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1answer
3k views

Does more light from Andromeda get scattered in the atmosphere than in the entire trip to Earth?

Fires have been burning here in Northern California. Today there was just a slight haze of smoke. The sun had a slight red hue to it. As expected the lower it got the redder it became. The blue light ...
30
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1answer
3k views

Using nuclear devices to terraform Mars: Elon Musk's nuclear proposal? [closed]

Elon Musk has recently suggested Using nuclear devices to terraform Mars. In the past, comet related ideas were mooted, but Musk seems, to me anyway, to be a man in a hurry and perhaps his idea has ...
28
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3answers
7k views

Why doesn't rain fall down in streams (as opposed to drops)

Why is it that raindrops don't collide and 'stick together' on their descent to Earth, arriving in streams rather than separate drops?
28
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2answers
2k views

Why doesn't Earth's atmosphere form bands due to different rotational speeds?

If the Earth's atmosphere is rotating at the same speed as Earth, then the atmosphere must be rotating much faster at the equator than at the poles. If you spin a ball covered in oil, it will form ...
27
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4answers
3k views

What causes the direction of lightning flashes?

During a lightning strike, the flashes appear as cloud to ground or cloud to cloud. Why is this the only manner of propagation? Why do the flashes not go upwards from the clouds into the sky?
26
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3answers
4k views

Why do the storms of Jupiter have long life unlike that of Earth?

Recently I saw How the Universe Works. In one of the episodes, concerning Jupiter, they told that the storms on Jupiter can survive many, many, times longer than those on Earth. What is the reason ...
25
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4answers
3k views

Difference between sunrise and sunset?

Other than knowing which direction is east and which direction is west, or observing for a sufficient timespan (to determine the direction of motion), is there any way of telling whether what one is ...
25
votes
1answer
986 views

Causes of hexagonal shape of Saturn's jet stream

NASA has just shown a more detailed picture of the hexagonal vortex/storm on Saturn: http://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-releases-images-saturns-hexagon-mega-storm-may-have-been-swirling-centuries-1496218 ...
24
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5answers
53k views

Why less temperature at high altitude

Why there is always cold at high altitudes. e.g. at peak of mountains. Also as we go high from sea level, temperature starts decreasing. Why is it?
24
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12answers
10k views

Why do spacecrafts take off with rockets instead of just ascending like an aircraft until they reach space?

I guess it's not a very educated question, but I never quite understood why spacecrafts have to shoot up and can't just reach space by simply continuing an upwards ascent like an airplane.
24
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4answers
13k views

The Density of Clouds

Clouds are made up of tiny water or ice droplets, depending on temperature. This implies that cloud density is greater than that of dry air. Why don't clouds sink through their surrounding atmosphere ...
24
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4answers
1k views

Why is lightning more rare during snow storms than rain storms?

Lightning and thunder during a snow storm is uncommon. As far as I know, more uncommon than during a typical rain storm. Why is this? I speculate it might be one, or both, of the following two ...
23
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5answers
147k views

Why does the road look like it's wet on hot days?

Often, I'll be driving down the road on a summer day, and as I look ahead toward the horizon, I notice that the road looks like there's a puddle of water on it, or that it was somehow wet. Of course, ...
22
votes
2answers
18k views

Why doesn't the evening/morning sun feel much hotter on your face?

I understand that places on the Earth's surface get hotter in summer, and in the middle of the day rather than morning or evening, because the surface of the Earth is presented 'face-on' to the Sun at ...
22
votes
2answers
19k views

Is there an upper frequency limit to ultrasound?

Wikipedia has this diagram of the acoustic frequency spectrum: Is there an upper limit to the frequencies you can transmit through the air? Are they absorbed more and more at higher frequencies, ...
21
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3answers
1k views

Are the air particles in today's wind on earth (more or less) the same as the air 2/3 billion years ago?

So the air pressure on earth remains relatively constant, right? Is there air gained or lost through transitions of any sort? e.g. plumes going out into space, earth gaining new air particles with ...
21
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1answer
1k views

Can rain evaporate?

Are there any atmospheric condition under which a visible raindrop can fail to hit the ground by evaporating first? I imagine this would require a large vertical temperature difference, and possibly ...
21
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2answers
2k views

How deep is the Great Red Spot?

The Great Red Spot (GRS) is a very persistent storm system that's easily visible through a telescope on the surface of Jupiter. But what is the three-dimensional structure of the GRS, and how deep ...
20
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5answers
7k views

If the pressure inside and outside a balloon balance, then why does air leave when it pops?

Sorry for the primitive question but when we inflate a rubber balloon and tie the end, its volume increases until its inner pressure equals atmospheric pressure. But after that equality is obtained ...
20
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the scientific explanation for radio waves bending around the Earth?

The experiment This experiment is documented in a documentary called Convex Earth. The exact location the following information is taken from starts at 14:25. High frequency directional antennas are ...
20
votes
5answers
16k views

Can helium disappear from Earth?

Helium is lighter than air, so it should fly off from Earth. Is it possible that in the future we will run out helium?
20
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4answers
30k views

How Earth protected from the gamma rays generated by Sun?

Sun is generating energy by nuclear fusion. And nuclear fusion will emit energy in the form of gamma rays. Normally earth's ozone filtering the Ultraviolet radiation. And magnetic fields of earth ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do nuclear bombs make a mushroom?

Atomic bombs make mushroom. It's well-known and we've seen many images of atomic experiments around the world. My question is, what causes the mushroom shape? Do conventional explosives like TNT and ...
18
votes
7answers
11k views

How big are clouds? [closed]

How big are clouds? When I look up into the sky I have no frame of reference, so I don't know if they are 200 feet or 2 miles across. When I am in a plane looking out at a cloud, I try to use the wing ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Why don't more rocky planets/moons have appreciable atmospheres?

It seems obvious why mercury has no atmosphere, given its proximity to the sun--but yet Venus is also fairly close, and has an extremely dense atmosphere. Titan is a large moon with an atmosphere ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the safe distance to a supernova explosion?

In other words, what stars near the Sun may have an impact on the Solar system equilibrium or the Earth life if they become supernova ? Is SN 1987 A too far ?
18
votes
2answers
2k views

If I shout at the sky, will some molecules reach escape velocity?

Will the sound waves, as they move higher and through less dense air, conserve energy to the point where some molecules of the rarified atmosphere attain escape velocity?
18
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1answer
3k views

Does anyone know the mechanism behind this double helix cloud formation?

This looks like m=2 swirling instability mode of the axisymmetric jet, but how could an axisymmetric jet form up in the sky like that?
17
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4answers
3k views

Why don't humans burn up while parachuting, whereas rockets do on reentry?

I guess it has something to do with their being both a high horizontal and a vertical velocity components during re-entry. But again, wouldn that mean there is a better reentry maneuver that the one ...
17
votes
2answers
5k views

Why does my infrared thermometer say the sky is at -2 °C?

I just got myself an infrared thermometer. I wouldn't have been able to predict what temperature it would give me when pointing at the sky, but it turned out to be -2 °C the first time I measured, and ...
17
votes
2answers
558 views

Why do clouds form in lumps?

What forces drive the water vapor to form the shapes every child draws? Why isn't water vapor forming an uniform mist layer consistently (which it some times does)? I have two general ideas how this ...
16
votes
4answers
4k views

To what extent do (man made) generators of heat from internal sources in earth's system cause climate change?

So I'm very far from a climate scientist but I've always wondered, why don't things like electric heaters, lightbulbs, etc, contribute to climate change, or even things like the accelerated decay of ...
16
votes
8answers
9k views

How do stars from far away affect Earth?

I know that we obviously get light (or we wouldn't be able to see them), but are there any other ways that they affect Earth and maybe just our solar system in general?
16
votes
4answers
4k views

Why can't I see the blue color scattered by the lower atmosphere of the earth?

I understand that the blue colour of the sky is because of the scattering of blue light by molecules in earth's atmosphere. The scattering appears to be happening from molecules that are far above in ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Why can our bodies bleed? [duplicate]

Human systolic pressure is 16 kPa and diastolic 11 kPa but Earth atmosphere pressure is 101.325 kPa. I don't understand why when we are hurt we bleed instead of air enter into our body. How can blood ...
16
votes
7answers
12k views

How does humidity affect the path of a bullet?

Background Last night, I was reading the FM 23-10 (The U.S. army official field manual for sniper training), and I've noticed that they're potentially teaching snipers incorrect information. ...