The flat-tail horned lizard's desert habitats in the American West are changing rapidly, thanks to us humans.

Even Desert Lizards Are Feeling the Heat Due to Climate Change

But Smithsonian scientists are probing the flat-tail horned lizard's DNA to save the rare species

Cumulus clouds don't literally have silver linings, but their edges are sharper than we thought.

Holograms Show That Puffy Clouds Have Sharp Edges

A laser-based imaging technique let scientists see what happens to water droplets at the borders of cumulus clouds

What gives your local Chardonnay that je ne sais quoi? It just might be the regional microbes.

Wine Gets Some of Its Unique Flavors From Regional Microbes

Small genetic differences in a single species of yeast produce distinct mixes of chemicals that contribute to terroir

Smog glows in the sunset in Shanghai, China.

Air Pollution Kills More Than 3 Million People Every Year

Fine particulates and ozone have been linked to deaths from heart disease, stroke and lung cancer around the globe

Nuts, shredded meat and bee poop are just some of the odd things that have reportedly rained from on high.

Strange Rain: Why Fish, Frogs and Golf Balls Fall From the Skies

Unusual precipitation doesn't just belong in myth and legend, and it's more common than you might think

An autumn day at Denali.

Seven Ways Alaska Is Seeing Climate Change In Action

From raging fires to migrating villages, the Frozen North offers some of the most compelling signs of rapid warming

Early marine arthropods called trilobites disappeared—along with 90 percent of species in the ocean and 75 percent of those on land—at the end of the Permian period.

Massive Volcanic Eruptions Triggered Earth’s "Great Dying"

Geologists nailed down the timing of the ancient event and confirmed that it is a likely suspect in the Permian extinction

Humans take 14 times more adult biomass from the oceans than other marine predators.

Modern Humans Have Become Superpredators

Most other predators target juveniles, but our species tends to kill more full-grown adults

This inscription in Dayu Cave dates to 1894. The writing on the wall says that a scholar and several local leaders brought more than 120 people to the cave to get water during a drought.

Chinese Cave Graffiti Records Centuries of Drought

And chemical clues in a stalagmite inside the cave confirm the chronicles on the walls

Debris still litters Durbar Square in Kathmandu, seen in June 2015.

Why the Nepal Earthquake Was Especially Bad for Cultural Sites

The major quake sparked a resonance in the basin that made taller buildings more likely to topple

An aurora glows near Australia in a photo taken from the International Space Station. Auroras are products of charged particles from the sun interacting with Earth's magnetic field.

Earth’s Magnetic Field Is at Least Four Billion Years Old

Tiny grains of Australian zircon hold evidence that our magnetic shielding was active very soon after the planet formed

A natural gas flare burns over a fracking site in the Bakken Oil Fields of northwestern North Dakota.

Recession, Not Fracking, Drove a Drop in U.S. Carbon Emissions

The switch from coal to natural gas played only a small role in the recent carbon dioxide decline

Flames and smoke cover the hillsides near Yucca Valley in California during a June wildfire.

Wildfires Are Happening More Often and in More Places

Average fire season length has increased by nearly a fifth in the last 35 years, and the area impacted has doubled

Ash and aerosols pour out of the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland in 2010.

Sixth-Century Misery Tied to Not One, But Two, Volcanic Eruptions

The ancient event is just one among hundreds of times volcanoes have affected climate over the past 2,500 years

From the Italian version of The Great Moon Hoax. Leopoldo Galluzzo,  Altre scoverte fatte nella luna dal Sigr. Herschel (Other lunar discoveries from Signor Herschel), Napoli, 1836

The Great Moon Hoax Was Simply a Sign of Its Time

Scientific discoveries and faraway voyages inspired fantastic tales—and a new Smithsonian exhibition

Water, water, everywhere …

Here's How U.S. Groundwater Travels the Globe Via Food

Major aquifers are being drained for agricultural use, which means the water moves around in some surprising ways

The aptly named elegant tern.

Warming and Overfishing Sent Seabirds Flocking to California

Mexico's elegant terns have begun nesting farther north in years when their traditional food is scarce

A village nestled inside the Brazilian Amazon.

Protecting Land in Brazil Reduces Malaria and Other Diseases

Areas under strict protection see the most benefit in shielding people from illness and infection

Earth's Oxygen Levels Can Affect Its Climate

Models of past eras show that oxygen can influence global temperature and humidity as its concentration changes

The NOAA ship R/V Roger Revelle collects climate data in the Antarctic in 2008.

There Is No Global Warming Hiatus After All

Improved data and better analysis methods find no slowdown in the pace of global temperature rise, NOAA scientists report

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