It is nothing short of a miracle that the Cold War didn’t lead to nuclear winters. America may be the world’s only standing superpower, but the threat of a nuclear exchange is clear and present between the other countries that have since acquired nuclear arsenal. Even a regional nuclear tit-for-tat could bring about “unprecedented” global cooling and reduce rainfall for years.
U.S government computer models have for long simulated likely scenarios of nuclear holocausts. Global cooling yes, but nuclear winters will also be associated with famine and disease. Global cooling will be brought about by huge fires, whose smoke, dust, and ash blot out the sun for weeks with the added ‘side effect” of dangerous radiation levels.
Scientists from NASA and other institutions simulated a war with hundred Hiroshima-level bombs, each the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT—just 0.03 percent of the world’s current nuclear arsenal. The objective was to understand the impact on global climate.
Immediate fires would throw up roughly five million metric tons of black carbon into the lower Earth atmosphere. The climate models show that the carbon would then absorb solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, rise even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky.
After a regional nuclear war, average global temperatures would drop by 1.25 degrees C for two to three years afterward. At the extreme, the tropics, Europe, Asia, and Alaska would cool by 3 to 4 degrees C.
Luke Oman, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland says –
“Examples similar to the crop failures and famines experienced following the Mount Tambora eruption in 1815 could be widespread and last several years.”
Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia and caused the same catastrophe as evidenced from the computer models. It was described as the “year without summer”.
The scientists said that global precipitation patterns would also get affected. It could immediately reduce rainfall levels by 10 percent for one to four years and lingering effects could continue even after that.
The main message, as Luke Oman said, is that even a regional nuclear conflict would have global consequences.