Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon

Paul J. Crutzen and John W. Birks
Ambio
Vol. 11, No. 2/3, Nuclear War: The Aftermath (1982), pp. 114-125
Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4312777
Page Count: 12
  • Download ($43.95)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Preview not available
Preview not available

Abstract

If a nuclear war occurs, serious atmospheric consequences will result from the production of large amounts of particulate matter due to the many fires that will start in cities, industry, and particularly in forests, agricultural fields, and oil and gas fields. We estimate that for most of the Northern Hemisphere the average intensity of sunlight reaching the surface of the earth would be reduced by a large factor as a result of light absorption by particles in the submicron diameter size range, and this darkness would persist for as long as the fires burn, which is expected to be many weeks. The screening of sunlight by the fire-produced aerosol over extended periods during the growing season would eliminate much of the food production in the Northern Hemisphere. Marine ecosystems may be particularly sensitive to the loss of sunlight that would result. The fires would also inject large quantities of oxides of nitrogen and reactive hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, creating the potential for a severe photo-chemical smog situation throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. The production of strong oxidants such as ozone and per-oxyacetylnitrate (PAN) as the aerosol is removed from the atmosphere would also negatively influence food production throughout the Northern Hemisphere during the first year following the war.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[114]
    [114]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
115
    115
  • Thumbnail: Page 
116
    116
  • Thumbnail: Page 
117
    117
  • Thumbnail: Page 
118
    118
  • Thumbnail: Page 
119
    119
  • Thumbnail: Page 
120
    120
  • Thumbnail: Page 
121
    121
  • Thumbnail: Page 
122
    122
  • Thumbnail: Page 
123
    123
  • Thumbnail: Page 
124
    124
  • Thumbnail: Page 
125
    125