Navigation Links
Nuclear weapons' surprising contribution to climate science
Date:7/13/2012

Los Angeles (July 13 2012). Nuclear weapons testing may at first glance appear to have little connection with climate change research. But key Cold War research laboratories and the science used to track radioactivity and model nuclear bomb blasts have today been repurposed by climate scientists. The full story appears in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE.

In his article for the July-August issue of the Bulletin, "Entangled histories: Climate science and nuclear weapons research," University of Michigan historian Paul Edwards notes that climate science and nuclear weapons testing have a long and surprisingly intimate relationship. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, for example, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization tracked the radioactive plume emanating from damaged Japanese nuclear reactors via a global network of monitoring stations designed to measure airborne radionuclides. That network is a direct descendant of systems and computer models created to trace the fallout from weapons tests, Edwards explains.

But ways of tracking radiation as it moves through the atmosphere have applications that extend far beyond the nuclear industry. Tracing radioactive carbon as it cycles through the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere has been crucial to understanding anthropogenic climate change.

Mathematical models with nuclear science roots have also found a place in the environmental scientists' toolboxes. The earliest global climate models relied on numerical methods, very similar to those developed by nuclear weapons designers, for solving the fluid dynamics equations needed to analyze shock waves produced in nuclear explosions.

The impacts of nuclear war on the climate represent another major historical intersection between climate science and nuclear affairs. Without the work done by nuclear weapons designers and testers, scientists would know much less than they do now about the atmosphere. In particular, this research has contributed enormously to knowledge about both carbon dioxide, which raises Earth's temperature, and aerosols, which lower it. Without climate models, scientists and political leaders would not have understood the full extent of nuclear weapons' power to annihilate not only human beings, but other species as well.

Facilities built during the Cold War, including US national laboratories constructed to create weapons, now use their powerful supercomputers, expertise in modeling, and skills in managing large data sets to address the threat of catastrophic climate change. This has benefitted the labs themselves -- without a new direction, the argument to continue funding these laboratories would have been less compelling -- and the science and scientists who are studying climate change.

"Today, the laboratories built to create the most fearsome arsenal in history are doing what they can to prevent another catastrophe this one caused not by behemoth governments at war, but by billions of ordinary people living ordinary lives within an energy economy that we must now reinvent," Edwards says.


'/>"/>
Contact: Katie Baker
katie.baker@sagepub.co.uk
44-020-732-48719
SAGE Publications
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Where to put nuclear waste?
2. Researchers at GW receive federal funds to study the effect earthquakes have on nuclear reactors
3. Autologous bone marrow-derived mononuclear cell transplants can reduce diabetic amputations
4. Postpone the nuclear waste decision
5. Dartmouth scientists track radioactive iodine from Japan nuclear reactor meltdown
6. Report presents designs for study of cancer risks near US nuclear facilities
7. New paper by Notre Dame researchers describes method for cleaning up nuclear waste
8. Effect of chronic exposure to chemicals used as weapons, pesticides under study
9. Seabirds study shows plastic pollution reaching surprising levels off coast of Pacific Northwest
10. First-of-its-kind study reveals surprising ecological effects of earthquake and tsunami
11. A surprising new kind of proton transfer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/30/2016)... CHICAGO , Nov. 30, 2016  higi ... a new partnership initiative targeting national brands, industry ... and reward their respective audiences for taking steps ... Since its inception in 2012, higi has built ... US, impacting over 38 million people who have ...
(Date:11/29/2016)... France , November 29, 2016 Nearly one ... Continue Reading ... ... is part of an efficient Identity Management. (PRNewsFoto/DERMALOG Identification Systems) ... DERMALOG is Germany's largest Multi-Biometric supplier: ...
(Date:11/22/2016)... , November 22, 2016 According to the ... IRIS, Palm Print, Face, Vein, Signature, Voice), Multi-Factor), Component (Hardware and Software), ... published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to grow from USD 10.74 ... CAGR of 16.79% between 2016 and 2022. ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... 2016  Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or ... developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases ... today the long-term follow-up data from its Phase ... Innate Defense Regulator (IDR), in the treatment of ... patients undergoing chemoradiation therapy (CRT).  The additional 12-month ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016 Savannah River Remediation LLC ... selected NewTechBio,s NT-MAX Lake & Pond Sludge ... bacteria, in conjunction with Hexa Armor/ Rhombo cover ... National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements. ... steady history of elevated pH levels, above 8.5, ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016   Biocept, ... leading commercial provider of clinically actionable liquid biopsy ... announces that clinical data featuring its Target Selector™ ... tissue biopsy for the detection of actionable biomarkers ... from research sponsored by Sara Cannon Research Institute ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... December 07, 2016 , ... Huffman Engineering, Inc. ... a Wonderware Certified System Integrator Partner. Huffman Engineering is the only Nebraska-based ... “The System Integrator Partner certification gives customers confidence that our engineers are fully ...
Breaking Biology Technology: