Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

General circulation model simulation of mild nuclear winter effects

Abstract

The climatic effects of an elevated uniform global layer of purely absorbing smoke of absorption optical depth 0.2 have been simulated using a version of the 9-level spectral model of McAvaney et al. (1978). The model was run at rhomboidal wave number 21 with convective adjustment, prognostic precipitation and soil hydrology, but fixed zonally averaged climatological cloud and fixed sea surface temperature, for constant January and July conditions with and without smoke absorption. Results show a reduction in convective rainfall in the tropics and monsoonal regions of the order of 50%, with diurnal average soil surface coolings of several degrees C except in those locations where the reduction in soil moisture is sufficient to effectively stop evaporation at the surface. In that case, small increases in temperature may occur. Results over Australia are consistent with the zonal mean picture. Run in a diurnal cycle mode, the model shows that daily maximum temperatures are more strongly affected, with soil surface coolings of the order of 2°–3° C in summer (with some local warmings) and 4°–6° C in winter. Overninght minimum temperatures cool by only 1°–2° C in both summer and winter. Possible effects of a lowering of sea surface temperature, variations in cloud cover, neglect of scattering by smoke, and infrared absorption and emission by the smoke are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Alexandrov V, Stenchikov GL (1983) On the modelling of the climate consequences of nuclear war. Proc Appl Maths, Computing Centre USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow, pp 21

  2. Berry MV, Percival IC (1986) Optics of fractal clusters such as smoke. Optica Acta 33: 577–591.

  3. Clarke RH, Brook RR (eds) (1979) The Koorin expedition —Atmospheric boundary layer data over tropical savannah land. Dept of Science and Environment. Austr Govt Printing Service, Canberra, pp 359.

  4. Covey C (1987) Protracted climatic effects of massive smoke injections into the atmosphere. Nature 325:701–703.

  5. Crutzen PJ, Birks JW (1982) The atmosphere after a nuclear war. Ambio 11:114–125

  6. de Haas N, Fristrom RM, Linevsky MJ, Silver DM (1986) Smoke scavenging by atmospheric ozone as a possible factor in the nuclear winter, problem. Johns Hopkins APL Tech Digest 7:181–186

  7. Ghan SJ, MacCracken MC, Walton JJ (1987) Chronic effects of large atmospheric smoke injections: interactions with the ocean mixed layer, sea ice and ground hydrology. Tech Papers, DNA Global Effects Program Review 7–9 April 1987, DA-SIAC-TN-87-35-V3, Defense Nuclear Agency, Washington D.C..

  8. Ghan SJ, MacCracken MC, Walton JJ (1988) The climatic response to large atmospheric smoke injections: sensitivity studies with a tropospheric general circulation model. J Geophys Res 93:8315–8338.

  9. Hart TL, Bourke WP, McAvaney BJ, Forgan BW, McGregor JL (1988) Atmospheric general circulation simulation with the BMRC global spectral model: the impact of revised physical parameterizations. Bur Meteorol Res Centre Res Rep No 12

  10. Harwell M, Hutchinson TC (1985) Environmental, consequences of nuclear war: Vol II. Ecological and agricultural effects. SCOPE 28. Wiley, Chichester, pp 554

  11. Malone RC, Auer LH, Glatzmaier GA, Wood M (1986) Nuclear winter: three-dimensional simulations including interactive transport, scavenging, and solar heating of smoke. J Geophys Res 91:1039–1053

  12. McAvaney BJ, Bourke W, Puri K (1978) A global spectral model for simulation of the general circulation. J Atmos Sci 35:1557–1583

  13. Mettlach TR, Haney RL, Garwood RW Jr, Ghan SJ (1987) The response of the upper ocean to a large summertime injection of smoke into the atmosphere. J Geophys Res 92:1969–1979

  14. Mitchell JFB, Slingo A (1988) Climatic effects of nuclear war. J Geophys Res 93:1031–1045

  15. NAS (1985) The, effects on the atmosphere of a major nuclear exchange. National Academy Press, Washington, pp 193

  16. Penner JE (1986) Uncertainties in the smoke source term for ‘nuclear winter’ studies. Nature 324:222–226

  17. Pittock AB (1986) Rapid developments on nuclear winter. Search 17:23–24

  18. Pittock AB (1987) Beyond darkness: nuclear winter in Australia and New Zealand. Sun Books, South Melbourne, pp 264

  19. Pittock AB (1988) Climatic catastrophes: the local and global effects of greenhouse gases and nuclear winter. In El-Sabh MI, Murphy TS (eds), Natural and Man-Made Hazards. Reidel, Dordrecht, 621–633 pp

  20. Pittock AB, Ackerman TP, Crutzen PJ, MacCracken MC, Shapiro CS, Turco RP (1986) Environmental consequences of nuclear war: Vol I Physical and atmospheric effects. SCOPE 28, Wiley, Chichester, pp 374

  21. Pittock AB, Frederiksen JS, Garratt JR, Walsh K (1989) Climatic effects of smoke and dust produced from nuclear conflagrations. In: Hobbs PV, McCormick MP (eds) Aerosols and climate. Deepak Pub, Hampton, 395–410 pp

  22. Post MJ (1986) Atmospheric purging of El Chichon debris. J Geophys Res 91:5222–5228

  23. Ramaswamy V, Kiehl JT (1985) Sensitivities of the radiative forcing due to large loadings of smoke and dust aerosols. J Geophys Res 90:5597–5613

  24. Robock A (1984) Snow and ice feedbacks for prolonged effects of nuclear winter Nature 310:667–670

  25. Schneider SH (1988) Whatever happened to nuclear winter? — An editorial. Climatic Change 12:215–219

  26. Schneider SH, Thompson SL (1988) Simulating the climatic effects of nuclear war. Nature 333:221–227

  27. Stenchikov GL (1985) Mathematical modelling of the influence of the atmospheric pollution on climate and nature. Proc Appl Math, Computing Centre of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow, pp 19

  28. Stenchikov GL, Carl P (1985) Sensitivity against large-scale inhomogeneities in the initial atmospheric pollutions. Paper presented at conference on “Climatic Consequences of Nuclear War”, Berlin (GDR), October 1985, pp 56

  29. Stenchikov GL, Carl P (1987) The complex nature of climate systems after nuclear war. Paper presented at SCOPEENUWAR workshop, Bangkok, February 1987

  30. Stephens SL, Calvert JG, Birks JW (1988) Ozone as a sink for atmospheric carbon aerosols: today and following a nuclear war. Aerosol Sci Tech (in press)

  31. Turco RP, Golitsyn GS (1988) Global effects of nuclear war. Environment 30:8–16

  32. Turco RP, Toon OB, Ackerman TP, Pollack JB, Sagan C (1983) Nuclear winter: global consequences of multiple nuclear explosions. Science 222:1283–1292

  33. Vupputuri RKR (1986) The effect of ozone photochemistry on atmospheric and surface changes due to large injections of smoke and NOx, by a large-scale nuclear war. Atmos Environ 20:665–680

  34. Warner F, and collaborators (1987) Severe global-scale effects of nuclear war reaffirmed. Environment 29:4–5 & 45

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to A B Pittock.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Pittock, A.B., Walsh, K. & Frederiksen, J.S. General circulation model simulation of mild nuclear winter effects. Climate Dynamics 3, 191–206 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01058235

Download citation

Keywords

  • Smoke
  • Optical Depth
  • Diurnal Cycle
  • Infrared Absorption
  • Monsoonal Region