nuclear winter

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Coined by Richard P. Turco et al. in a 1983 paper.[1]


nuclear winter (plural nuclear winters)

  1. A predicted drop in global temperature following a nuclear war due to dust in the upper atmosphere reducing sunlight reaching the ground.
    • 1984 January 23, “Parley on ‘Nuclear Winter’”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      Scientists from the United States, the Soviet Union and other countries will meet in the Vatican Monday to discuss “nuclear winter,” the chilling climatic effect a nuclear war could have on the earth.
    • 1995, Sagan, Carl, “When Scientists Know Sin”, in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark[2], First edition, New York: Random House, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, page 286:
      The global temperature declines predicted in the original (1983) nuclear winter scientific paper were 15-20°C; current estimates are 10-15°C. The two values are in good agreement considering the irreducible uncertainties in the calculations. Both temperature declines are much greater than the difference between current global temperatures and those of the last Ice Age. The long-term consequences of global thermonuclear war have been estimated by an international team of 200 scientists, who concluded that through nuclear winter the global civilization and most of the people on Earth— including those far from the northern mid-latitude target zone—would be at risk, mainly from starvation.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Krogan Codex entry:
      When the salarians discovered them, the krogan were a brutal, primitive species struggling to survive a self-inflicted nuclear winter. The salarians culturally uplifted them, teaching them to use and build modern technology so they could serve as soldiers in the Rachni War.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ R. P. Turco; O. B. Toon; T. P. Ackerman; J. B. Pollack; Carl Sagan (23 December 1983), “Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions”, in Science, volume 222, issue 4630, →DOI

Further reading[edit]