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Nuclear winter - Global consequences of multiple nuclear explosionsThe results of a computerized simulation of the potential global environmental effects of dust and smoke clouds that would be generated by a nuclear war are presented. Short term effects of blast, fire, and radiation are neglected in the series of physical models that include a nuclear war scenario, a particle microphysics model, and a radiative convective model. Account is taken of the altitude-dependent dust, smoke, radioactivity, and NO(x) injections, the temporal evolution of dust and smoke clouds, land and ocean environments, and temperature contrasts. A nuclear exchange would produce thousands of individual smoke and dust clouds rising up to 30 km altitude in the midlatitudes. The smoke, dust, and radioactive debris would cover the entire midlatitudes within 1-2 weeks. The smoke would arise from conflagrations of forests, suburbs, and urban areas. Obscuration of sunlight would induce subfreezing temperatures for several months, disruption of the global circulation patterns, and the arrival of a nuclear winter, followed and accompanied by radioactive fallout, pyrogenic air pollution, and UV-B flux enhancements. It is estimated that a total of only 100 Mtons would be sufficient to plunge the Northern Hemisphere summer to subfreezing temperatures lasting months. Since the probable exchange in a nuclear war would exceed 5000 Mtons, it is expected that many species, including humans, may not survive the war.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Turco, R. P. (R & D Associates Marina del Rey, CA, United States)
Toon, O. B. (R and D Associates Marina Del Rey, CA, United States)
Ackerman, T. P. (R and D Associates Marina Del Rey, CA, United States)
Pollack, J. B. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Sagan, C. (Cornell University Ithaca, NY, United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2013
Publication Date
December 23, 1983
Publication Information
Publication: Science
Volume: 222
ISSN: 0036-8075
Subject Category
Distribution Limits