Circle of Lightning
Photograph by Lynda Smith, My Shot
Lightning forks and rejoins itself over Table Mountain and Lion's Head in Cape Town, South Africa. Central Africa is the area of the world where lightning strikes most frequently.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic
A dramatic cloudburst releases jagged bolts of lightning deep into the Grand Canyon near Point Sublime.Buy This Photo
Lightning Over Las Cruces
Photograph by Lionel Brown, Getty Images
Two large lightning bolts strike the ground near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Though human eyes perceive the opposite, lightning moves from the ground up to the cloud.
Photograph by Mavroudakis Fotis, My Shot
Lightning strikes Kavala, Greece. The ancient Greek god Zeus was said to control lightning, but today we know lightning comes from a difference in electrical charge between clouds and the ground or among clouds.
Oriental Pearl Lightning Strike
Photograph by Sung Ming Whang, My Shot
A bolt of lightning strikes the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai, China.
Cochise County, Arizona
Photograph by Steven Maguire, My Shot
A thunderstorm passes behind the Cochise County courthouse in Arizona. Despite being in a dry part of the country, southeastern Arizona averages 30 to 40 thunderstorms a year.
Bolts on the Water
Photograph by Fotis Mavroudakis, My Shot
Several bolts of lightning strike the water off the coast of Kavala, Greece. Lightning can strike anything that can become electrically charged—including water.
Lightning Over Malaysia
Photograph by Ahmed Arup Kamal, My Shot
Lightning illuminates the horizon behind a Malaysian cityscape.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Photograph by Themba Hadebe, Associated Press
Tall towers are frequent targets of lightning strikes, because there is less air to act as an insulator between the tower and a cloud. In this case, it is the Hillbrow Telkom Tower in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Photograph by Ralph Wetmore, Getty Images
The Tucson, Arizona, skyline is illuminated by a bolt of lightning.
Photograph by Rick Kidd, My Shot
The inhabitants of a powerboat turn on their lights just as a bolt of lightning hits the ground behind it. Covered, walled structures are the best places to take refuge from a thunderstorm.
Photograph by Pete Gregoire, My Shot
Saguaro cacti stand in the desert as a thunderstorm rolls overhead. Lightning in dry areas increases the risk of brush fires.
Photograph by Kara Swanson, My Shot
Lightning arcs from the top of a cloud to the horizon off the coast of the Bahamas. Lightning that comes from the top of the cloud can be positive lightning, which is rare but can be significantly more powerful than more common negative lightning. It can also strike farther from the cloud, up to 10 miles (16 kilometers) away.
Lightning Strikes Twice
Photograph by Cui Jingyin, Imaginechina/AP
Foshan, China, is hit by two simultaneous lightning strikes.
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The Environment in Pictures
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Discover dunes and dive into seas of sand from Australia to the Middle East and beyond in this gallery dedicated to Earth’s most barren landscapes.
"Firenadoes"—such as the one filmed recently in the Australian Outback—aren't rare, just rarely reported, an expert says.
Fall into riotous hues and changing landscapes with this collection of autumn photos from National Geographic website visitors.
Rivers run through the heart and soul of countless communities. But, increasingly, they run on human terms rather than on Mother Nature’s.
How green is your valley? Very—and so are frogs, snakes, snails, butterflies, rolling hills, and more. Go green with this gallery of soothing images.
Put the intricate patterns of flora on your desktop with close-up photos of a variety of flowers, trees, leaves, cacti, and even flowering moss from around the world.
From a solar mansion in China to a floating farm in New York, green buildings are sprouting up in cities around the world. Among their many benefits are curbing fossil-fuel use and reducing the urban heat island effect.
Adaptation is the name of the game when you live thousands of feet below the water's surface. See how these deep-sea denizens make the most of their deep, dark home.
From volcano lightning to landslides, Mother Nature throws some spectacular and scary screwballs our way. Take a look at the weirdest and wickedest weather of all.
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The World's Water
NG's new Change the Course campaign launches. When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin.
A special series on how grabbing water from poor people and future generations threatens global food security, environmental sustainability, and local cultures.