Science News

Scientists consider the ramifications of a nuclear war between the US and Russia

In the event of a nuclear war between the two superpowers, the United States and Russia, would the nuclear winter that would follow involve the whole globe or just part of it? 

This question has never been answered by scientists because there are so many factors and variables but researchers from the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Rutgers-New Brunswick seem to have found the definitive answer.

According to the researchers, who published their own study in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, the nuclear winter that would follow an atomic war between the two nations would involve the entire globe and substantially no region would be saved from indirect effects.

Furthermore, during the summer, most of the mainland in the northern hemisphere would be characterized by temperature below zero and the reduced growth of cultivated fields would involve 90% of the land in various areas of the globe.

This would lead to very serious famines that would threaten all the 7.7 billion people who currently inhabit the planet, also because most of them rely on the globalized trade in food in order to survive.

According to Joshua Coupe, a student at Rutgers and one of the authors of the study together with Professor Alan Robock, a war between the United States and Russia would cause the release of 150 million tons of black smoke, resulting from fires in cities and industrial areas, in the lower and upper atmosphere.

In these two layers, this mass of material could stop for months or years blocking most or a good amount of sunlight. Compared to other similar calculations made in other research, this time the scientists used a new climate model from the National Center for Atmospheric Research that boasts better simulations.

This new model can characterize the Earth in many positions and also includes other factors not previously taken into consideration such as smoke particle growth and ozone distribution after atmospheric warming.

“There really would be a nuclear winter with catastrophic consequences,” said Coupe himself, suggesting that the dystopian and apocalyptic visions that have often been seen in science fiction would actually become reality.