Smoke from wildfires used to study effects of nuclear war

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Recent wildfires in the US gave scientists their first opportunity to test what’s known as the ‘Nuclear Winter Theory’.

The Nuclear Winter Theory is a term used to describe weather conditions after a nuclear war. A nuclear explosion would create enough smoke to block sunlight, lower the earths temperature, change global weather and eventually cause starvation around the world.

The forest fires of 2017 caused 1.1 million acres of damage in the Pacific Northwest region. The fires created huge mega clouds of black carbon. Scientists tracked these clouds over 8 months, as they travelled 14 miles up into the stratosphere. High above the earth’s weather system, it is possible the clouds can float around for years.

Scientists believe that in order to interrupt global weather conditions, the clouds would need to be bigger. But the way in which they behave, how high they can travel and how long they hang around for, is exactly the same. Whether they happen as a result of forest fires or a nuclear explosion.

There are currently nine countries that possess nuclear warheads, most are far more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb of WW2. Scientists are hoping their work will help to remind the world of the consequences of a nuclear war. Consequences that would last far into the future and affect us all.

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