Smoke Production from Multiple Nuclear Explosions in Nonurban Areas

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Science  02 Aug 1985:
Vol. 229, Issue 4712, pp. 465-469
DOI: 10.1126/science.229.4712.465


The amount of smoke that may be produced by wildland or rural fires as a consequence of a large-scale nuclear exchange is estimated. The calculation is based on a compilation of rural military facilities, identified from a wide variety of unclassified sources, together with data on their geographic positions, surrounding vegetation (fuel), and weather conditions. The ignition area (corrected for fuel moisture) and the amount of fire spread are used to calculate the smoke production. The results show a substantially lower estimated smoke production (from wildland fires) than in earlier "nuclear winter" studies. The amount varies seasonally and at its peak is less by an order of magnitude than the estimated threshold level necessary for a major attenuation of solar radiation.