A new climate model, with a large number of variables, has confirmed that a nuclear war between the United States and Russia would lead to a nuclear winter, as old models have predicted. Most people who lived through the nuclear era have heard of nuclear winter, in which global cooling would be the result of a major nuclear war.
The first fears of such a result have been reinforced by sophisticated computer models that showed what would happen if a large number of nuclear bombs were detonated in large urban areas.
The planet would become colder due to a large amount of smoke generated by the fires caused by atomic explosions: and the smoke would cover the entire planet for years, blocking the sun, creating additional, potential civilization-ending problems.
A new, worrying study
The new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, saw researchers from Rutgers University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado examine a large number of variables, such as the estimated number of bombs, their strength, where they would explode and the amount of smoke that each of them could generate.
What they found was shocking, yet expected, confirming previous models.
In their analysis, they decided to observe the worst-case scenario, in which all atomic weapons held by both countries were used in a total nuclear war.
In such a scenario, the researchers assumed that all the bombs would land in the United States or Russia.
The new model used by researchers is called ‘Community Earth System Model-Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model_version 4‘.
All model results were compared with those found with Model E of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in 2007.
The researchers report that both models showed the same outcome: a nuclear winter with a global temperature drop of approximately 11 degrees Celsius, a direct result of the potential war.
Both models showed a nuclear winter that lasted several years, and also displayed a global 30 percent reduction in precipitation during the first months after such a war.
The researchers further revealed that there were also differences in predictions: the previous model predicted a collapse in the monsoon season and important changes in El Niño events.
Thee new model predicted that global smoke coverage would last longer than the results of the previous model.
Although there were some differences over time, both models ended up showing the progression of smoke coverage starting in the impacted areas, extending over the northern hemisphere and finally reaching the southern hemisphere.
However, it is noteworthy mentioning that neither model was designed to provide predictions of what a great nuclear war would mean for the destiny of mankind; Previous theories have suggested that such war would result in human extinction, along with most other species.
However, the most recent predictions suggest that it might not be the case.
Researchers with this new effort discovered, for example, that the amount of soot that reached the atmosphere would be much less than that released when the asteroid that created the Chicxulub crater collided with our planet, annihilating the dinosaurs, but not all life on the planet.