[ The Science Behind Weather and Climate ]

[ CGI Weather Maps ]  Rainbows and towering cumulus thunderheads, with anvil shapes blown downwind... Lightning arcing from cloud to cloud, or jumping to ground... deep, fresh snow and a day off from school! Weather and climate are beautiful as well as awesomely powerful, but they also bring to dramatic life many of the most important scientific principles which are part of every curriculum. This section of the website shows you, with bold graphics and explanatory animations, how nature's laws shape the weather and climate we experience.

[ Sun ]   Here's where to find out why the Sun is the most important influence on Earth's weather and climate, and what makes the seasons. You'll find an explanation of how temperature differences ultimately caused by the Sun's heat result in pressure differences and the winds. What force emerges from the Earth's rotation around its polar axis, and shapes the deadly funnel of a tornado? In this section you can explore vorticity on the global and more local scale—and see it come to life in the pirouettes of an ice skater! How does temperature determine whether precipitation falls as rain, or sleet, or snow? Use our interactive "PrecipTool" to find out. How does convection shape thunderstorms, and determine the size of hail?

[ Animations ]   Parents or teachers (and P2K considers all adult caregivers "Educators"!) you'll find some special material for you in the EDUCATORS section. Students or members of the general public, you're invited to explore our growing set of animations, showing how a mesocyclone begins and sometimes spawns a twister. See how and why thunder and lightning happen, and how the Greenhouse Effect works. You'll need Flash 4 from Macromedia (there's a simple link to get it right here on our site) which we chose as the fastest-loading and most effective format for such animations. As yet not all these animations are active—remember we call this a "Continuing Construction" site—so check back again in the coming weeks to find out more about the science behind weather and climate.