Climatic consequences of regional nuclear conflicts A. Robock1, L. Oman1, G. L. Stenchikov1, O. B. Toon2, C. Bardeen2, and R. P. Turco3 1Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA 3Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Abstract. We use a modern climate model and new estimates of smoke generated by fires
in contemporary cities to calculate the response of the climate system to a
regional nuclear war between emerging third world nuclear powers using 100
Hiroshima-size bombs (less than 0.03% of the explosive yield of the
current global nuclear arsenal) on cities in the subtropics. We find
significant cooling and reductions of precipitation lasting years, which
would impact the global food supply. The climate changes are large and
long-lasting because the fuel loadings in modern cities are quite high and
the subtropical solar insolation heats the resulting smoke cloud and lofts
it into the high stratosphere, where removal mechanisms are slow. While the
climate changes are less dramatic than found in previous "nuclear winter"
simulations of a massive nuclear exchange between the superpowers, because
less smoke is emitted, the changes are more long-lasting because the older
models did not adequately represent the stratospheric plume rise.
Citation: Robock, A., Oman, L., Stenchikov, G. L., Toon, O. B., Bardeen, C., and Turco, R. P.: Climatic consequences of regional nuclear conflicts, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 2003-2012, doi:10.5194/acp-7-2003-2007, 2007.