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The climatic effects of nuclear warThe effects of various US-USSR nuclear-exchange scenarios on global climate are investigated by means of computer simulations, summarizing the results of Turco et al. (1983) and follow-up studies using 3D global-circulation models. A nuclear-scenario model is used to determine the amounts of dust, smoke, radioactivity, and pyrotoxins generated by a particular type of nuclear exchange (such as a general 5,000-Mt exchange, a 1,000-Mt limited exchange, a 5,000-Mt hard-target counterforce attack, and a 100-Mt attack on cities only): a particle-microphysics model predicts the evolution of the dust and smoke particles; and a radiative-convective climate model estimates the effects of the dust and smoke clouds on the global radiation budget. The findings are presented in graphs, diagrams, and a table. Thick clouds blocking most sunlight over the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes for weeks or months and producing ground-temperature reductions of 20-40 C, disruption of global circulation patterns, and rapid spread of clouds to the Southern Hemisphere are among the 'nuclear-winter' effects predicted for the 5,000-Mt baseline case. The catastrophic consequences for plant, animal, and human populations are considered, and the revision of superpower nuclear strategies is urged.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Turco, R. P. (R&D Associates, Inc. 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
August 1, 1984
Publication Information
Publication: Scientific American
Volume: 251
ISSN: 0036-8733
Subject Category
Distribution Limits