A new study has revealed how nuclear war can seriously alter the chemical properties of the Earth’s oceans, destroying lives living there,media New Atlas reported. The scientists behind the study used advanced climate models to predict a series of nuclear scenarios and their consequences.
Nuclear conflict is one of the greatest threats facing the world today. The final year of the Second World War demonstrated the absolute destructive power of these super-weapons, when the atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan claimed tens of thousands of lives. In addition to the tragic loss of life that inevitably accompanies such events, nuclear conflicts will have far-reaching implications for the Earth’s environment. Smoke will darken the sky and crops away from the conflict site will suffer.
Now, a new study has revealed some potentially damaging effects of nuclear war on the Earth’s oceans. The researchers used state-of-the-art Earth system models to simulate the effects of a series of nuclear conflict scenarios. These include relatively small regional nuclear conflicts, such as one between India and Pakistan, and a larger war between the United States and Russia.
Simulations show that after a nuclear conflict, large amounts of soot particles that absorb sunlight are ejected into the atmosphere from high altitudes due to a fire caused by a catalytic explosion. Carbon dioxide then enters the upper ocean, creating carbonic acid, which in turn increases the ocean’s acidity. This will increase the number of hydrogen ions present in the ocean, while reducing the number of carbonated ions, which corals and marine animals rely on to produce bones and shells.
The researchers say soot in the atmosphere triggers global cooling, which temporarily reduces the effects of ocean acidification. However, cooling will further reduce the amount of carbonate ions in the oceans about a decade after the nuclear strike, exacerbating the problems of marine life. The study’s authors point out that while large-scale nuclear war would be the worst-case scenario, even smaller ones could have significant and far-reaching adverse effects on marine life.
“For some time now, we have known that land agriculture will be severely affected by climate change caused by nuclear war,” commented co-author Professor Alan Robock of Rutgers University. A lingering question is whether survivors can still get food from the sea. Our research is the first step in answering this question. “
The paper has been published in geophysical research letters.