Louisiana State University

CEGO Seminar: Beyond Nuclear Winter: Climate Change Following a Nuclear War

Presenter: Dr. Joshua Coupe, Louisiana State University, Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences

Cost: Free!

When: Friday, March 25, 11:30 a.m.

Where: Hybrid Zoom/Dalton J. Woods Auditorium; Energy, Coast and Environment Bldg.

A large-scale nuclear war could lead to massive firestorms in major cities across the world. Firestorms in industrial and urban areas across the world would inject massive amounts of soot (black carbon) into the stratosphere, triggering rapid global climate change. Using climate model simulations of nuclear war between the United States and Russia, we find that temperatures below freezing in the summer in the continental mid-latitudes would severely diminish agriculture for multiple consecutive years. Global reductions in precipitation lead to drought and severe disruption to the monsoon across Southeast Asia. Global cooling and reduced precipitation together contribute to the excitement of extreme modes of climate variability. Global convection is severely diminished, leading to an equatorward shift in the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Reduced tropical convection diminishes the strength of the trade winds, leading to a multi-year El Niño event that causes warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This is referred to as a “Nuclear Niño” due to its unprecedented strength and duration. Northern Hemisphere sea ice experiences an expansion reminiscent of an ice age, which helps to keep global mean temperatures at least 0.5 °C below the long term mean nearly 30 years after the initial injection of soot. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, a poleward shift in the jet stream induces a shift in wind stress curl along the Antarctic Coastline in the Weddell Sea, allowing for the upwelling of relatively warm water from below to melt a hole (polynya) into the sea ice. New simulations of the climate impact of nuclear war expand the scope of the climatic consequences of using nuclear weapons.

For more information, please email CEGO at CEGO.Seminars@gmail.com.

Friday, March 25, 2022 at 11:30am to 12:30pm

Energy, Coast & Environment Building, Dalton J. Woods Auditorium

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations

Target Audience

General Public





College of the Coast & Environment


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