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WEATHER: What forces affect our weather?
The Atmosphere
The Water Cycle
Powerful Storms
Ice and Snow
Our Changing Climate
Related Resources

New Englanders have a saying: "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute." Weather forecasts may be more stable in other parts of the world, but the basic idea stands. Weather is dynamic, the product of interacting forces we are only beginning to understand.

Witness the weather extremes caused by El Niño in 1997 and 1998. El Niño raised water temperatures in the Pacific and the effects were felt worldwide: crop failures, disease outbreaks, excess snow, or too little rain. Journalists have painted a picture of El Niño as an isolated event, a freak weather occurrence. But El Niño, like many other climatic forces, is part of Earth's balancing act. It has come before. It will happen again.

Weather may change on a daily basis, but climate changes over geologic time. The history of the planet is marked by cold periods and warm periods that are surprisingly regular. Some scientists suggest that human civilization has thrived in what is no more than a brief warm spell in Earth's history. Like El Niño, ice ages are patterns, not incidents. Seen on a geologic scale, climate is no more stable than weather.

Join us as we explore the forces behind the weather. Try your hand at tornado chasing or discover how wind chill works. Begin by taking a look at what protects Earth from the forbidding climate of outer space in "The Atmosphere."

  "Weather" is inspired by programs from Planet Earth.


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