How Many Nukes Would It Take to Cause a Nuclear Winter?

Nuclear bombs are the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction known to man. The destruction from a nuclear bomb can do extensive damage to the environment and lives.

While the damage will eventually be reversed, it can possibly take years to do. This period of time is known as a nuclear winter.

It’s been theorized by many experts that as few as five nuclear bomb detonations could start a nuclear winter.

To learn more about the devastation caused by nuclear winters simply continue reading below.

What is a nuclear winter?

A nuclear winter is a theorized extended period of time in which the Earth’s atmosphere is so full of smoke and soot from the firestorms caused by nuclear bombs that sunlight is reduced or doesn’t reach the earth.

During a nuclear winter, temperatures on the earth will be cooler by as much as 25 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) than what average temperatures were prior to the nuclear blasts. Growing seasons for produce and farm crops may be nonexistent, causing famines and starvation for many people and animals which are used as food.

Due to the intense heat of the firestorm during the nuclear blast, nitrogen would have combined with oxygen forming nitrogen oxide in the upper atmosphere. In a nuclear winter, nitrogen oxide will displace much of the protective ozone layer. This will enable harmful ultraviolet rays to come to the earth, causing radiation burns to unprotected skin, and heating the earth higher than normal when the smoke clears from the atmosphere.

Is it possible to survive a nuclear winter?

Depending on how many firestorms there were, how far away the blast zones were, and how much of a survivalist you are will determine how well you survive the nuclear winter. The further away from a blast zone you are to begin with, and the more prepared you are for such an emergency, the greater the chances will be of surviving a nuclear winter.

Also, as most of the blasts will take place in the northern hemisphere where the majority of the population is, living in the southern hemisphere would be advised.

If there are only a few nuclear detonations in a confined area, a minimal nuclear winter would occur in the area of the blasts. The rest of the earth should be okay with little impact on the environment. Chances of surviving a nuclear winter would go down if many nuclear weapons are used due to the lack of sunlight and amount of radioactive fallout.

Also, be prepared for what you’re going to do when folks come to you asking for help. Ensure that a good means of self-defense is known or available. If you need to contact someone, know how to do it via short-wave or ham radio, or by other means.

Have lots of warm clothes. Be aware of ways to keep yourself busy, possibly doing board games or jigsaw puzzles, reading books, or even praying.

How long will a nuclear winter last?

Depending on the number of firestorms, what the yield of the nuclear blasts are, and where they are placed will determine how long a nuclear winter will be. Speculations are from one to four years, although it could easily be longer.

The winter will come to an end when the protective ozone layer is repaired, the radioactive particles are out of the atmosphere, and the earth can heat back up to normal temperatures.

Will a nuclear winter bring on another ice age?

If there were enough firestorms, smoke and soot in the atmosphere will be so thick that it would be possible that the polar icecaps will extend towards the equator.

This will last until the nuclear winter ends, which will depend on how thick the smoke and soot in the atmosphere will be. It’s unknown how long that will be, although experts don’t feel that it’s likely.

What is nuclear autumn?

Nuclear autumn will be the time after one or two nuclear blasts in a concentrated area. Smoke, soot, and dust will still block the sunlight in that area, but not the entire world.

What happens when a nuclear bomb is detonated?

When an average nuclear bomb of about 600 kilotons of TNT is detonated in the air, there will be a fireball as hot as the sun with a shock wave of hurricane-force winds pushing out from the center of the blast.

This will knock down buildings, trees, anything standing within a 10-mile radius. Due to the intense heat of the fireball, anything that is burnable will be set afire. Debris from the initial shock wave will be picked up by the winds and dropped further out from the blast area causing more damage and/or death.

Any life within the smaller initial blast area will be killed or vaporized, while lives nearer to the outer edges may be able to live and only suffer from radiation burns.

Gamma-ray radiation from the blast will cause an EMP over a very large area depending on the height of the detonation. Unless electronic equipment is protected to withstand an EMP by a process called “hardening,” the electronic circuits will be rendered useless. This will mean that electronic control circuits for electric infrastructure won’t work.

There will be a radioactive zone about one and a half miles wide around the blast zone. Dust, dirt, soot, and other loose items will become radioactive and be sucked up by ascending air currents. These particulates will be dropped back to earth later contaminating whatever they land on.

Immediately after the shock wave, air from the surrounding area will be drawn back into the fireball at hurricane speeds, creating a firestorm within the smoke from the fireball That air will be pushed up as high as 70,000 feet into the atmosphere.

What are the results of a firestorm?

The soot and dust in the atmosphere will stay there for as long as four years or more until it’s brought back to earth by gravity. It may come back in raindrops as “black rain” with the soot and dust coagulated with the raindrop.

While it’s in the atmosphere, it will effectively reduce or stop sunlight from getting to anything on the earth which uses sunlight to grow or survive. So at noon during any given day, it could be very dark.

Plants use sunlight for the process of photosynthesis, which turns carbon dioxide into oxygen, a necessary component for life to exist. This will be the beginning of a nuclear winter.