Climate effects of a hypothetical regional nuclear war: Sensitivity to emission duration and particle composition
Number of Authors: 4
2016 (English)In: Earth's Future, ISSN 1384-5160, E-ISSN 2328-4277, Vol. 4, no 11, 498-511 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Here, we use a coupled atmospheric-ocean-aerosol model to investigate the plume development and climate effects of the smoke generated by fires following a regional nuclear war between emerging third-world nuclear powers. We simulate a standard scenario where 5 Tg of black carbon (BC) is emitted over 1 day in the upper troposphere-lower stratosphere. However, it is likely that the emissions from the fires ignited by bomb detonations include a substantial amount of particulate organic matter (POM) and that they last more than 1 day. We therefore test the sensitivity of the aerosol plume and climate system to the BC/POM ratio (1:3, 1:9) and to the emission length (1 day, 1 week, 1 month). We find that in general, an emission length of 1 month substantially reduces the cooling compared to the 1-day case, whereas taking into account POM emissions notably increases the cooling and the reduction of precipitation associated with the nuclear war during the first year following the detonation. Accounting for POM emissions increases the particle size in the short-emission-length scenarios (1 day/1week), reducing the residence time of the injected particle. While the initial cooling is more intense when including POM emission, the long-lasting effects, while still large, may be less extreme compared to the BC-only case. Our study highlights that the emission altitude reached by the plume is sensitive to both the particle type emitted by the fires and the emission duration. Consequently, the climate effects of a nuclear war are strongly dependent on these parameters.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 4, no 11, 498-511 p.
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140279DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000415ISI: 000392812800003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-140279DiVA: diva2:1081633