The team used a cluster of computer processors at LASP to run three separate 10-year simulations -- each more than 300 hours long -- linking the urban fire nuclear scenario to climate and atmospheric chemistry processes. The team coupled NCARs Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model 3 with the Community Aerosol and Radiation Model for Atmospheres developed by CU-Boulder and NASA Ames.
Two 2006 studies led by Toon and involving UCLA and Rutgers University showed that such a small-scale regional nuclear war could produce as many fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt global climate for a decade or more. Of the eight nations known to possess nuclear weapons, even those with the smallest nuclear arsenals, like Pakistan and India, are believed to have 50 or more Hiroshima-sized weapons.
In addition, about 40 countries possess enough plutonium, uranium or a combination of both to construct substantial nuclear arsenals, said Toon. A nuclear exchange involving 100 15-kiloton, Hiroshima-type weapons is only 0.03 percent of the total explosive power of the worlds nuclear arsenal, he said.
We hope other research groups repeat our calculations and undertake their own scientific studies on this issue, said Toon. The world has become a far more dangerous place when the actions of two countries on the other side of the world could have such a drastic impact on the planet. The study was funded by CU-Boulder.
|Contact: Michael Mills|
University of Colorado at Boulder