Nuclear testing during the cold war increased rainfall over the Shetland Islands

Nuclear testing during the cold war could lead to an increase in rainfall over the Shetland Islands for at least two years, according to a studypublished in the journal Physical Review Letters. Rainfall in the region during that period increased by about a quarter.

In the middle of the last century, the USSR, USA and UK participated actively in the race to develop nuclear and thermonuclear weapons and conducted numerous tests. The bombings had a profound impact on the planet, including its atmosphere, increasing its conductivity and ion concentration. Theoretical calculations show that this should influence the nature of rainfall, as little drops of water acquired a charge that could increase the probability of their collision and merger into larger and heavier droplets.

To test this hypothesis, Giles Harrison (Giles Harrison) from Redding University and his colleagues analyzed the records made of the radiological and meteorological stations in London and the Shetland Islands in the 1960s. Researchers paid attention to the changes in atmospheric concentrations of strontium-90 and other radionuclides that predicted the rate of formation of ions. If it rises sharply, it could say that over the Kingdom flew the cloud of particles emitted by the nuclear tests. These data researchers collated information about the change in the density of clouds and precipitation over the two regions.

In 1962-1964 year, scientists found a marked peak of emission of ions in the atmosphere. It was found that in London it is almost no impact on precipitation patterns that, according to the researchers, could be related to high levels of air pollution over the capital of great Britain. But on Shetland the traces of the trials became obvious. In that period the clouds in the region were significantly more dense, causing the precipitation increased by about 24 percent.

In the words of Harrison, an understanding of how electric charge in the atmosphere can affect the density of clouds and rainfall, could provide the basis for developing management strategies to weather through less destructive means. The work of scientists can give an idea of what amount of charge will need to spend. In the future, forecasters expect to see will affect the amount of precipitation using the ions emitted by the corona generators. They can be placed on Board the aircraft.

In the Soviet Union the nuclear energy is used not only for military purposes but also for solving various scientific and industrial applications, from seismic sounding to extinguish fires at gas wells. In 1965 the country began to implement the Program № 7 “Nuclear explosions for the national economy.” Read more about this in our article “Bomb farm”.

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