Regional Nuclear War Could Create the Mother of all Ozone Holes

Nuclear explosion
As if nuclear war wasn't scary enough, a new computer modeling study by CU-Boulder scientists Brian Toon and Michael Mills shows that even a regional nuclear war (between Pakistan and India, for example) could create a near global hole in the ozone layer. This, aside from the other terrifying effects of such a war, would affect life on Earth for at least a decade.

"The computer-modeling study showed a nuclear war between the two countries involving 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear devices [which are relatively small] on each side would cause massive urban fires and loft as much as 5 million metric tons of soot about 50 miles into the stratosphere [...]. The soot would absorb enough solar radiation to heat surrounding gases, setting in motion a series of chemical reactions that would break down the stratospheric ozone layer protecting Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation."

Nuclear war

The study is titled "Massive Global Ozone Loss Predicted Following A Regional Nuclear Conflict" and it was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 7th issue):

In addition to ozone losses of 25 percent to 40 percent at mid-latitudes, the models show a 50 percent to 70 percent ozone loss at northern high latitudes [...]

The ozone losses predicted in the study are much larger than losses estimated in previous "nuclear winter" and "ultraviolet spring" scenario calculations following nuclear conflicts [...] A 1985 National Research Council Report predicted a global nuclear exchange involving thousands of megatons of explosions, rather than the 1.5 megatons assumed in the PNAS study, would deplete only 17 percent of the Northern Hemisphere's stratospheric ozone, which would recover by half in three years.

Obviously, saying that more efforts should be made to avoid nuclear war at all costs is not a hard sell, but it's scary to think that more than 50 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which was a secondary target - it was supposed to be Kokura) we're still discovering new downsides to these weapons.

See also: Nuclear Winter: Now Easier to Trigger than Ever (In Short: We'd be F#%^ed)
::Regional nuclear conflict would create near-global ozone hole, says CU-Boulder study

See also: ::Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor... Your Nuclear Waste, ::Nuclear Energy - Screwing US Taxpayers Behind The Scenes, ::Ozone Could Slash Global Crop Yields by 40% by Century's End
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