After the explosions of nuclear bombs in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear war became absolutely real. Scientists have studied in detail the possible consequences of more powerful explosions: how radiation will spread, what biological damage will be, and climate effects.
Nuclear war - how it happens
A nuclear explosion is a huge fireball in size that completely burns or chars objects of animate and inanimate nature even at a great distance from the epicenter. A third of the explosion energy is released in the form of a light pulse, which is thousands of times greater than the brightness of the sun. This ignites all flammable materials, such as paper and cloth. People have third degree burns.
Primary fires do not have time to inflame - they are partially extinguished by a powerful air blast wave. But due to flying sparks and burning debris, short circuits, gas explosions, burning petroleum products, long and extensive secondary fires are formed.
Many individual fires are combined into a deadly firestorm that can destroy any metropolis. Similar fire tornadoes destroyed Hamburg and Dresden during World War II.
In the center of such a tornado there is an intense heat release, because of which huge masses of air rise up, hurricanes form at the surface of the earth, which support the fire element with new portions of oxygen. Smoke, dust and soot rise to the stratosphere, and a cloud is formed, which almost completely obscures the sunlight. As a result, a deadly nuclear winter begins.
Nuclear war leads to a long nuclear winter
Due to the huge fires, a huge amount of aerosol will be released into the atmosphere, which will cause a “nuclear night”. According to calculations, even a small local nuclear war and the bombings of London and New York will lead to a complete absence of sunlight over the Northern Hemisphere for several weeks.
For the first time, Paul Crutzen, a prominent German scientist, pointed out the devastating effects of massive fires that will provoke a further cascade of irreversible changes in climate and biosphere.
The fact that a nuclear war inevitably leads to a nuclear winter was not yet known in the middle of the last century. Tests with nuclear explosions were conducted single and isolated. And even a "soft" nuclear conflict involves explosions in many cities. In addition, the tests were carried out in such a way that large fires were not provoked. And only not so long ago, with the joint work of specialists of biologists, mathematicians, climatologists, and physicists, they managed to put the overall picture of the consequences of a nuclear conflict together. The world community has studied in detail how the world can become after a nuclear war.
If only 1% of currently produced nuclear weapons are used in the conflict, the effect will be 8, 200 "Nagasaki and Hiroshim."
Even in this case, a nuclear war would entail the climatic effect of the emergence of a nuclear winter. Due to the fact that the sun's rays will not be able to come to Earth, there will come a long cooling of the air. All wildlife that does not conquer in fires will be doomed to freeze.
Considerable temperature contrasts will arise between land and ocean, since large accumulations of water have significant thermal inertia, so the air there will be cooled much more slowly. Changes in the atmosphere will suppress the water cycle, and on continents immersed in the night and bound with absolute cold, the most severe droughts will begin.
If a nuclear war had occurred in the northern hemisphere in summer, then within two weeks the temperature there would have fallen below zero, and the sunlight would have completely disappeared. At the same time, in the Northern Hemisphere all the vegetation would have died completely, and in the Southern Hemisphere - partially. Tropics and subtropics would become extinct almost instantly, since the flora there can exist in a very narrow temperature range and a certain amount of light.
Lack of food will lead to the extinction of animals. Birds have almost no chance of survival. Only reptiles can survive.
Dead forests, which are formed in vast areas, will become material for new fires, and the decomposition of dead flora and fauna will cause the release into the atmosphere of a huge amount of carbon dioxide. Thus, the global carbon content and exchange will be disrupted. The disappearance of vegetation will cause global soil erosion.
There will be almost complete destruction of those ecosystems that now exist on the planet. All agricultural plants and animals will die, however, seeds may remain. The sharp rise in ionizing radiation will cause serious radiation sickness and lead to the death of vegetation, mammals and birds.
Emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxides into the atmosphere will cause destructive acid rain.
One of the above factors would be enough to destroy many ecosystems. Worst of all, after a nuclear war, they will start to act all together, fueling and strengthening each other’s actions.
To go through a critical point, after which catastrophic changes in the Earth’s climate and biosphere will begin, a relatively small nuclear explosion, 100 Mt, will suffice. For an irreparable disaster, it will be enough to activate only 1% of the existing arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Even those countries in whose territory not a single nuclear bomb will explode will be completely destroyed.
Nuclear war in any form represents a real threat to the existence of mankind and life on the planet in general.