(ORDO NEWS) — The threat of nuclear war is the most acute since the Cold War, so a team of scientists has taken a fresh look at this grim topic. What will happen if atomic bombs start flying in the modern world?
A study published in the journal AGU Advances details how an atomic war, involving exchanges between any of the world’s nine nuclear powers, would release colossal amounts of soot and smoke into the upper atmosphere.
The emissions will block out the sun, leading to a sharp drop in global temperatures of 7.2°C over the course of a month and possible crop failure.
The oceans could suffer even more, and the effects of a nuclear war would last decades, if not centuries, potentially plunging the world into a “little nuclear ice age.”
Ocean temperatures will drop sharply, especially in the northern parts of the world’s oceans, where growing sea ice will freeze the waters around major ports, including the Beijing port of Tianjin, Copenhagen and St. Petersburg, which will put an additional burden on world trade.
A severe freezing of the ocean and a lack of sun will lead to a mass extinction of seaweed. Since they are at the base of much of the marine food web, the oceans will starve, leading to the near extinction of fisheries and aquaculture.
These catastrophic effects will be felt in all scenarios studied by the team. They can also be felt around the world, no matter where the bombs are labeled in the world.
“It doesn’t matter who bombs whom. It could be India and Pakistan or NATO and Russia.
Once smoke enters the upper atmosphere, it spreads around the world and affects everyone,” said Cheryl Harrison, lead author of the Louisiana State University study.
In the new study, scientists ran a series of computer simulations to examine the impact of various nuclear war scenarios on Earth systems, given current nuclear warfare capabilities.
There are currently about 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world, distributed among nine countries (although many of these warheads are technically “decommissioned” and are being more actively shelved).
The vast majority of the warheads are in the US and Russia, while just over 1,000 are in France, China, Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea.
One of the most important clashes the experts modeled was the nuclear exchange between the US and Russia. In one of these scenarios, they envisioned Russia and the US using 4,400 100 kiloton nuclear weapons against each other’s major cities and industrial areas.
They estimate that this will lead to fires that emit 149 billion kilograms of smoke and soot into the upper atmosphere.
Even if there were a small nuclear war between India and Pakistan, the consequences would be global and catastrophic.
Theoretically, these two countries could detonate about 500 100 kiloton nuclear weapons, creating up to 46 billion kilograms of smoke and soot, which would also stop vital amounts of sunlight from reaching Earth.
Overall, the results of the study are clear: the planet needs to avoid nuclear war at all costs.
“We can and must do everything possible to avoid nuclear war. It is all too likely that the consequences will be globally catastrophic,” adds Harrison.
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