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Possible repercussions of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan circa 2025 | Study published in Science Advances Vol. 5, no. 10, 2 Oct 2019

3 October

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Pakistan and India may have 400 to 500 nuclear weapons by 2025 with yields from tested 12- to 45-kt values to a few hundred kilotons. If India uses 100 strategic weapons to attack urban centers and Pakistan uses 150, fatalities could reach 50 to 125 million people, and nuclear-ignited fires could release 16 to 36 Tg of black carbon in smoke, depending on yield. The smoke will rise into the upper troposphere, be self-lofted into the stratosphere, and spread globally within weeks. Surface sunlight will decline by 20 to 35%, cooling the global surface by 2° to 5°C and reducing precipitation by 15 to 30%, with larger regional impacts. Recovery takes more than 10 years. Net primary productivity declines 15 to 30% on land and 5 to 15% in oceans threatening mass starvation and additional worldwide collateral fatalities.

Science Advances Vol. 5, no. 10, 2 Oct 2019

Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe

by Owen Brian Toon, Alan Robock, Charles Bardeen, Lili Xia, Hans Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, R.J. Peterson, Cheryl Harrison, Nicole Lovenduski and Richard Turco


The nuclear arsenals of Britain, France, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan are thought (1–3) to lie in the range of 100 to 300 warheads each (Fig. 1). Although the use of these weapons by any of these countries could produce a regional, and likely global, disaster, India and Pakistan are of special concern because of a long history of military clashes including serious recent ones, lack of progress in resolving territorial issues, densely populated urban areas, and ongoing rapid expansion of their respective nuclear arsenals. Here, we examine the possible repercussions of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan circa 2025 in which cities are one class of target, either by direct or collateral targeting. These repercussions have not been investigated previously. Because of the near-term regional effects of nuclear blast, thermal radiation, and prompt nuclear radiation, we find that perhaps for the first time in human history, the fatalities in a regional war could double the yearly natural global death rate. Moreover, the environmental stresses related to climate changes caused by smoke produced from burning cities could lead to widespread starvation and ecosystem disruption far outside of the war zone itself. [ . . . ]

Read the full paper here