A confrontation with nuclear weapons is one of the worst scenarios that humanity can consider. So even if there is no imminent threat that this could happen scientists constantly study the devastation that a conflict of this type would cause for the entire planet. In 2019, for example, a simulation from Princeton University showed that a hypothetical nuclear war between Russia and the US would kill 34 million people in a few hours.
Now, recent research led by Rutgers University in the US has focused on the catastrophic effects nuclear weapons would have on the oceans. The results are chilling, but experts agree that these types of academic exercises can be one more way to dissuade countries from one day using their nuclear arsenal.
Although the issue is shrouded in secrecy it is estimated that there are more than 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Studies Institute (SIPRI). What were the results of this research and why did it focus on the oceans? In search of food previous research has shown that the radioactive fallout and blocking of sunlight caused by the explosion of atomic weapons would dramatically reduce agricultural production and land for crops which in turn would cause a major famine.
The dangerous version of the climatic phenomenon that is becoming more and more frequent in the Pacific Faced with this hypothetical scenario, the Rutgers researchers analyzed the possibility of turning to the oceans to obtain food that would no longer be available on land. The result of the study, however, is disappointing.
Resorting to that is unlikely to be a successful strategy the research indicates. To reach this conclusion, the authors studied what would happen in the equatorial zone of the Pacific Ocean. Computer simulations showed that a nuclear war could unleash an unprecedented El Niño-like warming phenomenon in this area.
The effect of the bombs would reduce the phytoplankton population by 40% in that area. in turn, could affect the larger organisms that people consume according to the research. The simulations showed that the effects of nuclear could be felt for seven years. During that time, drastic changes in water temperature and wind currents would occur, causing severe imbalances in the ecosystem.
It’s like hitting the climate system with a big hammer as Joshua Coupe, a meteorologist and marine scientist in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and lead author of the study describes it in an article from the Geophysical Union of America. What is the El Nino phenomenon Nino is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific that has important consequences for the climate around the world according to the National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, for its acronym in EnglishThis weather pattern, periodically governs rains, droughts, floods, and storms across the Earth.
What We Know As El Nino Is Actually Just One Of The Phases Of The So-called El Nino Southern Oscillation.
This cycle is composed of a warm phase in which the temperature of the ocean water increases and a cold phase, in which the temperature of the water drops. These changes in the atmosphere and the ocean upset the weather conditions, generating heavy rains or extreme droughts with serious consequences in various parts of the world. Drastic changes
Coupe and his team studied six hypothetical nuclear conflict scenarios a large-scale confrontation between Russia and the United States, and five smaller-scale confrontations between India and Pakistan. Such wars could ignite huge fires that inject millions of tons of soot into the upper atmosphere blocking sunlight and altering Earth’s climate the research says. During the first year after a nuclear war, the temperature of the ocean surface water would rise. over the next six years, there would be so little sunlight due to soot, that the water would have a lower temperature than the normal average according to Joshua Coupe explained.
The cooling of the water and the atmosphere due to soot in turn would cause changes in the circulation of the ocean and the winds causing the warm water to move from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific. The nuclear El Nino refers to this change in circulation, which is like a Nino says Coupe. According to the study estimates, the water temperature in some areas of the ocean could rise by almost 4ºC.
All these changes would unleash an imbalance in the ecosystem. Disruptions of winds, currents, and temperature would prevent the rise of deeper waters that carry nutrients such as phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain. Furthermore, decreasing sunlight would drastically reduce the photosynthesis of phytoplankton.
Finally, the drop in temperature caused by the nuclear El Nino would mean a severe reduction in rainfall in the areas between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and equatorial Africa. For Alan Robock a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University and a co-author of the study, the message that this apocalyptic panorama sends is overwhelming we want to safeguard our food and the Earth’s environment, we must avoid nuclear conflict.