February 28, 2007
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Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 1, NUMBER 3, SEPTEMBER 1988
EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WAR
Special Issue:--"The Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War,"
Environment, 30(5), June 1988.
"Why Study Nuclear War's Effects?" (Editorial), A. McGowan,
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
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.
"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
"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.
"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
"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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