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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d88sep20

Special Issue:--"The Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War," Environment, 30(5), June 1988.

"Why Study Nuclear War's Effects?" (Editorial), A. McGowan, (inside cover).

This issue deals largely with new information from the Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War (ENUWAR) project of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), part of the International Committee of Scientific Unions. The long-term effect studies on crop production and other sensitive environmental issues have not yet entered the international policy debate, and emphasis on continuing international scientific collaboration is an important reason to devote an entire issue to this subject.

"The Environmental Effects of Nuclear War: Consensus and Uncertainties," F. Warner (Dept. Chem., Essex Univ., Colchester, UK), 2-7.

As chair of the SCOPE ENUWAR project since 1983, Warner reports that the five-year international effort (to estimate the consequences of nuclear war) has now entered a new phase. A March workshop in Moscow ended the project's coordination of research on a variety of topics, that will now proceed under other auspices. The 1986 SCOPE ENUWAR Report states that a major nuclear war could lead to large-scale climatic perturbations involving drastic reductions in light levels and temperatures over large regions within days, and changes in precipitation patterns for periods of days, weeks, months, or longer. Studies confirm many long-term effects of nuclear war but there are still uncertainties in effects on crops, livestock and atmospheric chemistry, including possible stratospheric ozone depletion.

"Global Effects of Nuclear War: A Status Report," R.P. Turco (R&D Assoc., Marina Del Ray, Calif.), G.S. Golitsyn, 8-16.

Updates the results of the 1986 report. Study of the global climatic impacts of massive smoke injections shows that the sooty fraction is the most important component, and injected masses of smoke may become stabilized in the upper atmosphere. Models also show that the suppression of precipitation is so severe that the summer Asian monsoon would fail, and long-term global ozone depletions of 50% or more are possible.

"Modeling the Dispersal and Deposition of Radionuclides: Lessons from Chernobyl," H.M. ApSimon (Mech. Eng. Dept., Imperial College, London, UK), P. Gudiksen et al., 17-20.

Studies show that radionuclides may be transported over long distances and mathematical models can predict the process. Experimental measurements show extremely patchy deposition with randomly located hot spots in areas where precipitation happened to intercept the radioactive plume.

"The Biological Consequences of Nuclear War: Initiating National Case Studies," M.A. Harwell (Ctr. Environmental Res., Cornell Univ., Ithaca NY 14853), A.C. Freeman, 25-30.

Case studies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, the People's Republic of China, India, Japan and Venezuela will focus on the specific effects on the countries' most important ecological, agricultural and human systems. Evaluations of these systems' responses to stratospheric ozone depletion and associated enhanced UV-B radiation, and to greenhouse-gas-induced changes in global temperature and precipitation, will be compared with existing studies.

"New Zealand After Nuclear War," W. Green (Dept. Conserv., Wellington, N.Z.), p. 28.

A synopsis of the New Zealand Planning Council's 1987 report of the same title. Many effects would result from the nation's dependence on international trade; there would be little chance of recovery to pre-nuclear-war conditions.

"Scaling Global Climate Projections to Local Biological Assessments," T.P. Ackerman (Dept. Meteor., Penn. State Univ., Univ. Pk., Penn.), W.P. Cropper Jr., 31-34.

A process of linking climate models to crop models was formalized at the ENUWAR Moscow workshop. Developments in both fields of modeling are closing the gap between physical and biological models and will reduce the need for human subjectivity in the link.

"Health Effects of Nuclear War: New Perspectives," A. Leaf (Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.), T. Ohkita, 36-38.

The global fallout from an airburst of a fireball that does not touch the ground may disperse into the high atmosphere and settle gradually over weeks, months or years.

"Radiological Effects of Nuclear War," C.S. Shapiro (Phys. Dept., San Francisco State Univ.,San Francisco, Calif.), 39-41.

"The Climatic and Other Global Effects of Nuclear War," United Nations Study Group, 42-45.

Excerpted from the group's report (UN Document A/43/351) to be formally considered by the General Assembly this fall. Summarizes a review of criticisms of previous estimates of global consequences, which do not invalidate the group's conclusion that a large-scale nuclear war could have a significant effect on global climate.

Item #d88sep21

"Simulating the Climatic Effects of Nuclear War," S.H. Schneider (NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307), S.L. Thompson, Nature, 333(6170), 221-227, May 19, 1988.

A review of simulations of climatic effects, by an increasingly comprehensive series of global numerical models. Short-term climatic effects are now found to be similar to the normal mid-latitude change from summer to autumn. Chronic long-term effects of climate disturbances, radioactive fallout, ozone depletions and the interruption of basic social services remain potentially serious and could threaten more people globally than would the direct effects of nuclear explosions.

Item #d88sep22

"Climatic Effects of Nuclear War: The Role of Atmospheric Stability and Ground Heat Fluxes," J.F.B. Mitchell (Meteor. Off., Met O20, London Rd., Bracknell RG12 2SZ, UK), A. Slingo, J. Geophys. Res., 93(D6), 7037-7045, June 20, 1988.

Uses a model which treats the diurnal cycle of insolation and includes surface and boundary layer parameterizations which take into account static stability and a four-layer soil model. Three idealized experiments are described in which a band of smoke is prescribed over northern mid-latitudes in July. The inclusion of deep soil layers decreases surface cooling by about 20%, but the inclusion of stability effects increases the cooling by about 20%. Errors caused by the neglect of both effects are approximately equal and opposite.

Item #d88sep23

"What Happened to Nuclear Winter?" J. Maddox, Nature, 333(6170), 203, May 19, 1988.

Four years of public anxiety about nuclear winter have not led anywhere in particular. The author hopes the problems of the ozone layer, greenhouse gases and global warming will be more carefully addressed by researchers than has been nuclear winter.

Item #d88sep24

"Nitrogen and Sulfur Emissions from the Burning of Forest Products Near Large Urban Areas," D.A. Hegg (Dept. Atmos. Sci., Univ. Washington, Seattle WA 98195), L.F. Radke et al., J. Geophys. Res., 92(D12), 14,701-14,709, Dec. 20, 1987.

Postulates that high emissions are due to revolatilization of previously deposited pollutants. Implications for pollutant source inventories and the nuclear winter hypothesis are briefly discussed.

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