A new study published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres described a simulation run by scientists using a climate model that analyzed the effects of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States and found nuclear winter would be soon behind with devastating effects for the planet, according to ZME Science.
A team of researchers from Rutgers University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the University of Colorado came short of declaring nuclear war as the end of mankind, but they did detail how the fallout would decimate the climate around the world.
There are an estimated 15,000 nukes stored around the world, but recent studies have found just under 100 would be enough to plunge the Earth into nuclear winter, which could claim more than one billion lives.
The models indicated a nuclear winter would cause temperatures to drastically fall around the planet and total precipitation amounts would be slashed by 30 percent for months after the event.
Even though the actual chances of a nuclear war happening are slim, a single nuclear warhead can kill hundreds of thousands of people within hours, but millions more would also die from the effects.
The study agreed with a previously conducted simulation from 2007 by NASA which said nuclear war would thrust the Earth into a 10-year nuclear winter and inject 150 million tons of soot into the atmosphere.
“Despite having different features and capabilities, both models produce similar results. Nuclear winter, with below freezing temperatures over much of the Northern Hemisphere during summer, occurs because of a reduction of surface solar radiation due to smoke lofted into the stratosphere,” the authors wrote.
The soot would spread around the entire stratosphere of the earth within weeks of the first detonation, blocking sunlight and plunging temperatures around the world by more than 7 degrees Celsius.
Agricultural crops would be widely affected and extreme weather events would become even more variable.
"The models agree that a nuclear winter would follow a large scale nuclear war between the United States and Russia," the authors wrote, concurring with previous studies which said it would be "suicidal" for any country to carry out a full-scale nuclear attack.