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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 10:23 EDT

Atmosphere

A Radio Atmospheric signal (sometimes referred to as Sferic or Spheric), is a broadband electromagnetic impulse that occurs during atmospheric lightning discharges. Sferics spread out from the lightning source and can be received thousands of miles awa...

A Vortex (plural: vortices) is a spinning, often turbulent, mass of flowing fluid. Any spiral movement with a closed streamline is considered vortex flow. The speed and rate of rotation of a vortex is always greatest at the center, with progressively d...

A thermal column is a column of rising air in lower altitudes of the atmosphere. Thermal columns are created by uneven heating patterns of the Earth's surface from solar radiation. The sun warms the ground, and the air directly above the ground begins ...

Wind Shear (windshear, wind gradient) is described as difference in wind speed and direction over a short distance in the atmosphere. Wind shear is broken down into vertical and horizontal components. Horizontal wind shear is seen across weather fronts...

Water vapor (aqueous vapor) is the gaseous phase of water. It is one stage of the water cycle of our planet. Water vapor is formed from either evaporation or heating of liquid water, or from the sublimation of ice. In nature, water vapor is continuousl...

Turbulence (or turbulent flow) is characterized by chaotic, random property changes. Turbulence occurs with low momentum diffusion (spreading of atmospheric properties), high momentum convection (vertical transference of atmospheric properties), and ra...

Altocumulus clouds belong to a class distinguished by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches. These clouds are larger and darker than cirrocumulus and smaller than stratocumulus. Like other cumulus clouds, altocumulus indicates a vertical and up...

Nimbostratus clouds are distinguished by a formless cloud layer that is predominantly dark gray in color. "Nimbo" comes from the Latin word "nimbus", meaning rain. It is a cloud that produces rain, and develops a cloud base between the surface and 10,0...

Altostratus clouds are clouds belonging to a class distinguished by a uniform gray sheet or layer. They are lighter in color than nimbostratus and darker than cirrostratus. The sun is visible and shines through these clouds. Altostratus frequently cove...

A Stratus cloud is a cloud belonging to a class distinguished by horizontal layering with a uniform base. This type of cloud is different from other clouds that are usually taller than they are wide (these are known as cumulus clouds). The term "˜stra...

Cirrostratus are thin and generally uniform clouds that are composed of ice crystals. These clouds are capable of forming halos. They are mostly located above 18,000 feet. When they are thick enough to be seen, they appear whitish, but usually have no ...

Cirrus clouds are thin wisplike strands, sometimes accompanied by patches. Their shape and arrangement lead to their common name of "mare's tail". These clouds can be so extensive that they are virtually identical to one another and hard to tell apart....

Cirrocumulus clouds are high-altitude clouds that mainly occur between 16,000 and 40,000 feet. Like most cumulus clouds, these clouds indicate a vertical and upward transference of atmospheric conditions. Unlike other cirrus clouds, cirrocumulus compos...

A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from surrounding areas. This term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet, or as large as many square miles. Common areas where microclimates exist are, for example, near bod...

Ring Current -- A ring current is an electric current carried by charged particles trapped in a planet's magnetosphere. It is caused by the longitudinal drift of energetic (10-200 keV) particles. Earth's Ring Current Earth's ring current is respo...

Scintillation -- Scintillation is a generic term for rapid variations in apparent position, brightness, or color of a distant luminous object viewed through the atmosphere. If the object lies outside the earth's atmosphere, as in the case of stars ...

Sky -- Although almost everyone have seen it, sky is hard to be defined precisely. Generally, sky is the space seen when one looks upward from the surface of a planet. Some people define sky as the denser gaseous zone of a planet's atmosphere. Cloud...

Earth's Atmosphere -- Earth's atmosphere consists of nitrogen (78.1%) and oxygen (20.9%), with small amounts of argon (0.9%), carbon dioxide (variable, but around 0.035%), water vapor, and other gases. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorb...