Nuclear winter or slight cooling: how will the climate change after an atomic bombing?

The question of nuclear winter, which is questionable to scientists, became one of the key arguments in favor of nuclear disarmament at the end of the Cold War. Despite this, however, the concept of nuclear winter remains a subject of discussion and debate.

The first speculation about the impact of nuclear explosions on the climate dates back to 1952, when the United States planned to test a hydrogen bomb with a yield of about 10 megatons. Scientists expressed concern about possible global cooling. A report by Major Luledjian of the U.S. Air Force confirmed that explosions of 10-100 megatons could significantly affect the insolation of the Earth’s surface and cause climate change.

To model the effects of nuclear conflict, scientists have to rely on assumptions. Current climate models that take into account the effects of aerosols and soot on climate are considered reliable. However, to obtain correct results, the amount of soot that is released into the stratosphere by urban fires must be taken into account. This requires determining how many cities will be destroyed and how efficiently they burn.

There are several perspectives on the effect of nuclear winter on climate. One is based on the research of Owen Toon and his colleagues, who calculated the effects of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. Their calculations showed that the average global land temperature could fall by 4-8 degrees Celsius and the entire Earth by 2-5 degrees Celsius. This cooling would be comparable to the Stone Age ice age and would last about ten years.

However, there are scientists who do not agree with the concept of nuclear winter. For example, specialists at the Los Alamos Laboratory, where nuclear weapons were created, conducted a study based on proven physical models. They modeled the impact of the fireball of an explosion on the environment, the development of a fire and its effect on the climate. Their results show that most of the soot released falls as rain within the first month and the remainder is carried to higher altitudes. These scientists believe that the effects of a nuclear war will not lead to prolonged cooling.

Thus, the question of nuclear winter remains open. Although some studies predict major climate change, other scientists believe that the effects will be less severe. Further research and modeling will help to determine more precisely what awaits humanity after a nuclear bombing.

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