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How much has nuclear testing contributed to global warming?

Posted on 24 August 2012 by Tom Curtis

A reasonable estimate indicates that the total energy released by nuclear explosions in the twentieth century amounts to six hundred megatons TNT equivalent of energy, or 2.5 billion, billion Joules (2.5 x 1018 J).  That estimate  is larger than the five hundred and thirty megatons TNT equivalent estimated by UNSCEAR (also), so it can be considered a conservative estimate.  Divided over the five hundred and ten million, million square meters of the Earth's surface (510 x 1012 m^2), and over the two decades of peak testing, that represents eight millionth of a Watt per square meter (8 x 10-6 W m-2) of power.  For comparison, the 1.8 Watts per square meter (1.8 W m-2) of CO2 radiative forcing as of 2011 generates approximately twenty nine billion, trillion Joules of energy (29 x 1021 J) over the Earth's surface in a single year, or more than ten thousand times as much energy in a year that the entire combined nuclear weapons program of the world has generated.

That is not the whole story.  Many nuclear tests kick up a lot of dust, which reflects sunlight, thereby cooling the Earth.  Indeed, according to Turco et al, 1983, that is the dominant effect of nuclear explosions on climate.  The result is that nuclear testing is likely to have reflected more energy from the Sun than they generated.  That is, nuclear testing is likely to have been a net cooling factor.

Let us ignore that possibility, and the large proportion of energy released to space as radiation.  In that case, during the period of maximum nuclear testing it may have contributed 0.62 millionth of a degree Centigrade (0.62 x 10-6 C) to temperature increase, a contribution too small to notice, and likely to have entirely dissipated since the reduction in nuclear testing in the 1990s.  The peak contribution was in 1962, when nuclear testing may have contributed as much as one hundred and seventy megatons TNT equivalent of energy in 1962.  Averaged over the year and the Earth's surface, that represents forty-four millionths of a Watt (44 x 10-6 W m-2), for a warming contribution, ignoring dust effects, of around thirty-five millionths of a degree Centigrade (35 * 10-6  C), still too small to notice.



Note: this is the intermediate rebuttal to 'nuclear testing is causing global warming' and can be found at the short URL

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Comments 1 to 50:

  1. I thought I was familiar with pretty much all the myriad loopy dissenting arguments. This one took me by surprise. There are some very important historical links between nuclear weapons and climate science, since the rapid improvement in atmospheric monitoring and modelling that occurred after WWII was very significantly driven by the desire to learn more about the likely fallout distribution of nuclear explosions. I read a fascinating article drawing many of these links, though can't find it right now.
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  2. Byron: I thought I was familiar with pretty much all the myriad loopy dissenting arguments. Me too. There are a lot of problems with this idea beyond the basic erg deficit. I don't think nuclear weapons release a new form of energy that is unusually subject to gravitational attraction, weapons testing largely ended a long time ago, yet the energy released in those tests is supposed to be lingering? How? Is a bizarre argument like this a sign of hope or cause for depression? Desperate hail Mary or indicator of a receptive audience whose thinking skills have collapsed and dribbled away like ice cream on a a hot summer day?
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  3. I certainly can't recall seeing anyone make this claim before online.
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  4. Tom Curtis, in your third 'graph, under the "Annual Yields" graph, you've mispelled 'from' to 'form.' I understand though, having rented flingers, too..;) Thanks for this article, and to Doug: I'm waiting for bated breath to hear what next the denialisti come up with, for the global warmings, as their cherished 'causes' fall like dominos. Excessive planting of sunflowers, causing too much reflection of yellow light up to the troposphere? Where I live--surrounded by ~25K acres of corn, alfalfa, and *sunflowers*, and in the county in which I live (where I'm one of two, *maybe* ten Progressives--it would be an easy sell. You heard it here, first...;(
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  5. On a more serious note, have a look at the discussion in Fujii 2011, on stagnation of Global Warming in mid 20th Century. Interesting read, and more of a case for cooling due to atmospheric nuclear explosions than warming
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    Moderator Response: [DB] Fixed link.
  6. Byron et al. "I thought I was familiar with pretty much all the myriad loopy dissenting arguments. This one took me by surprise." I'll bet you don't know this one either.
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  7. Like the sheep. The world sheep population has fallen by 1% since 1992. They'll be paying farmers to breed pale coloured animals next. Wouldn't want to be black sheep.
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  8. Fujii link now fixed, apologies. I see Watts criticised it last year, so maybe there's merit to it.
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  9. vroomie @4, thanks, and fixed. Byron Smith @1, this is certainly not the loopiest idea I have ever seen from AGW "skeptics". The most bizarre is the idea that it is radar that is causing global warming. The next most bizarre is that not only is geothermal energy causing global warming, but the relatively temperate climate at the Earth's surface is entirely caused by geothermal energy. The theory that nuclear weapons is the cause involves primarily a simple failure to grasp the scale of the energies involved. Consequently it will have an intuitive appeal to the scientifically uninformed; but fortunately only to a very few on the sidelines.
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  10. Tom@9: HAARP. Oh, and the evil gummint contrails...
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  11. I'm dubbing it HAARP's Law (the equivalent of Godwin's Law):
    1. As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving HAARP and/or jet contrails/chemtrails/new world order (nwo) approaches 1. 2. In other words, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to HAARP and/or jet contrails/chemtrails/nwo. 3. Once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the HAARP and/or jet contrails/chemtrails/nwo has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.
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  12. When flying in comment streams, don't poke the HAARPies!
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  13. I was going to suggest that we shouldn't haarp on about this... ;-)
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  14. "Chemtrails," not contrails! How can we enact a conspiracy if we can't keep our terms straight? No "Agenda 21 Decoder Ring" for you guys, sorry.
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  15. Looking of nuke test influence over the climate is a joke, however a related topic: the natural radioactive decay in Earth's mantle is not. This wikipedia article provides the real, somewhat signifficant number of 0.1W/m2 as the geo-radiative heat escaping to space currently. It used to be twice higher 2Ga. So, some (within just one order of magnitude-10) portion of this heat, diminishing as the Earth ages, can be attriubuted for recent cooling from hothouse of ancient history. I cannot find any more info about that in climate studies that I've looked at, which IMO cannot be ignored, because 0.1W/m2 should be taken into account if taking about total radiative balance. Or, maybe less geo-heat in recent times can mean that simply plate techtonics are not as fast as they used to be with no change to radiative balance, hopefully some geologist would explain it to me? Thanks.
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  16. I once had to debunk a similar thing: that time it was microwave radiation. As in the calculation above, the estimation (in favor of the hypothesis by overestimating sender density and strength and handy strength and usage) showed a difference of several orders of magnitude compared to the energy needed to heat the globe as is observed. -- Some arguments can easily be checked ad hoc for validity, but the more advanced biasing, tweaking, cherry picking, falsifying, etc. of science is not so easy to get for me - despite my regular reading on climate here and elsewhere - and I am very thankful to all people here contributing to this fact oriented work. I personally am not a (semi-)professional on the subject, so I only con contribute a little money to the web site each year: one of the best investments I can make in a livable future, I think.
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  17. DB@11: I *like* it! Now, who's gonna write it up on Wikipedia? The birth of a new definition is something I'm not sure I've ever witnessed, before!
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  18. #5 Peter - agreed. The Role of Atmospheric Nuclear Explosions on the tagnation of Global Warming in the Mid 20th Century Yoshiaki Fujii Abstract This study suggests that the cause of the stagnation in global warming in the mid 20th century was the atmospheric nuclear explosions detonated between 1945 and 1980. The estimated GST drop due to fine dust from the actual atmospheric nuclear explosions based on the published simulation results by other researchers (a single column model and Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model) has served to explain the stagnation in global warming. Atmospheric nuclear explosions can be regarded as full-scale in situ tests for nuclear winter. The non-negligible amount of GST drop from the actual atmospheric explosions suggests that nuclear winter is not just a theory but has actually occurred, albeit on a small scale. The accuracy of the simulations of GST by IPCC would also be improved significantly by introducing the influence of fine dust from the actual atmospheric nuclear explosions into their climate models; thus, global warming behavior could be more accurately predicted. So atmospheric tests inject aerosols into the stratosphere like a thousand mini-volcanoes.
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  19. I would have thought that the amount of organic material vaporised by nuclear explosions would be more significant than energy released, as it would all convert to CO2. This would still be small on a global scale.
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  20. [Snipped of topic comments]
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    Moderator Response: TC: jmorpuss, Skeptical Science does not exist for your benefit, and nor do you have a special privilege to ignore the comments policy. If you wish to discuss the absurd theory that microwave transmissions cause global warming, you are entitled to do so where it is on topic, and not anywhere else.

    Please carefully peruse the comments policy before commenting there as well. If you do not have anything new to add to what you have already written, as appears to be the case, simply regurgitating the same tires arguments will result in your posts being deleted for failing to avoid excessive repetition, and sloganeering.
  21. I found the answer to my post @15 and pointers to the interesting papers on another thread: SkS is an excellent source of knowledge if you know how to search it...
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    Moderator Response: TC: Link made live.
  22. Where did this Einstinean idea originate from? I give our Lord Monckton the benefit of a doubt - I can't believe he'll stoop that low. Then again...
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  23. TC, ModComm@20....what?? Now there's a "tires cause GW" argument? Jk...;=)
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    Moderator Response: TC: I meant "tired", of course, and as you obviously realize. I shall allow the misprint to stand so that your joke can as well. (It is not often I get to start my GW reading in the morning with a chuckle.)
  24. Well, vroomie, I don't think that argument's going to get any traction. I mean, evidence is where the rubber hits the road. It's been a good year for GW, and we're rapidly turning the planet into a fire stone. This tread is kind of petering out, isn't it?
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  25. DSL@24:......*ow*. But, you're right; this t(h)read is becoming kinda like a carcass....;) TC: I aims ta please! I'm a big believer in humor, both remaining in a tough topic, and being injected into ones that are bordering on war--not that this one was--but I am glad you got the joke!
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  26. Please my ignorance, but the way it was described to me many years ago in high school, dropping an h-bomb was equal to taking a teaspoon of the sun and exposing it to Earth's atmosphere.  Is there any way someone might describe the thermal change caused by above  ground testing in terms of heat from automobiles or dmage done by coal emissions?

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  27. earthhouse

    As a comparison, a common unit that is being used to describe the amount of heat accumulating in the worlds oceans, where over 90% of the heat is going, is the Hiro. The Energy of 1 Hiroshima bomb. Energy is accumulating in the oceans at around 4 Hiro's per second. The very largest bombs ever exploded were of the order of a 1000 times larger than the Hiroshima bomb but only a tiny number of those were ever tested. quite a few bombs that were 10 to 100 times larger than the Hiroshima bomb were tested. Possibly hundreds.

    Wikipedia suggests there have been nearly 2000 tests.

    So lets say as an upper limit that there were 2000 tests at 100 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb.  200,000 Hiro's. That is the equivalent of just under 14 hours worth of heat accumulation in the oceans. So totally insignificant compared to the heating being observed.

    It can be hard to get our heads around the relative magnitudes of different very large quantities.

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  28. earthhouse @26, that is an interesting analogy.

    Assuming that all energy from nuclear tests was dissipated as heat in the Earth's atmosphere (which without doubt over estimates the amount of heat generated), 0.000044 W/m^2 of energy was generated over the years of nuclear testing.  For comparison, the total waste heat from human industry, power generation and transport is 0.028 W/m^2, or 636 times as much.  The current Top Of Atmosphere (TOA) energy imbalance is approximately 0.6 W/m^2, or 13,636 as much.  The current forcing by CO2 is 1.9 W/m^2, or 43,368 times as much.

    Comparison with the power output of individual cars could, no doubt, be calculated, but I do not think the result would be informative.  However, the total energy released by nuclear testing (2.5 x 10^18 Joules) is equivalent to that which would be released by burning 71.4 billion liters of gasoline, or 18.9 billion gallons.   However, actually burning that amount of gasoline would release 164 million tonnes of CO2, which as it happens is a mere 0.012 ppmv of atmospheric content, considering only the portion retained in the atmosphere.  The additional greenhouse effect of that tiny amount of additional CO2 would be 0.00016 W/m^2, or 3.6 times the amount from the total energy release from nuclear testing, with the difference being that that increased greenhouse effect would continue year on year, while the nuclear testing is over and done, and it forcing along with it.

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  29. Glenn @27, as you know I strenuously object to the use of the "Hiro" as a unit of energy, both because (as I understand it), the residents of Hiroshima find it offensive, and because its impact factor comes from its association with the explosion of Little Boy at Hiroshima, with the deaths of 100,000 people immediately or from injuries recieved, and further deaths of 100,000 people +/-  from radiation exposure.

    I also consider it a scientifically limited comparitor with the total forcing or TOA energy imbalance because it leaves out the essential factor of entropy.  The energy imbalance due to the greenhouse effect is not like the dropping of four atomic bombs a second at random over the Earth's surface because far less destructive (while noting that the much less destructive effects will also be much longer lasting, and indeed will outlast the energy imbalance itself). 

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  30. I read somewhere that the dust from nuclear testing might have had a cooling affect from increased albeido.  Does anyone know if that is real or just something that is spread on the internet?

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  31. Google finds this article, unfortunately behind a pay wall.  The abstract claims that the global temperature hiatus from 1950-1970 can be attributed to fine dust from above ground nuclear tests.  Very few cites by scientists so apparently other scientists did not think much of the hypothesis. 

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  32. michael sweet @30, based on Turco et al that would have been the dominant impact of nuclear testing on climate.  I believe Turco et al over estimated the impact of nuclear exchanges on climate, primarilly by underestimating the moderating effect of the thermal mass of the oceans.  Further, many nuclear tests were underground (eliminating the aerosol forcing) or at sea (minimizing it), so it is not certain that he net forcing would have been negative, though still likely.   However the effect in either direction would be far to small to distinguish from the impact of other factors on Earth's short term climate in the fifties and sixties.

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  33. Could limited detonations of nuclear warheads be a short-term stop-gap measure to fight global warming, then? The world might be willing to trade lowered food production and a slight increase in cancer rates to buy some time to solve global warming permanently.  As for wildlife, Chernobyl shows that human habitation is far deadlier to wildife than radiation is.  How many detonations do you think it'd take?

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  34. Did nuclear testing cause current warming  trends? Stop looking at the energy released and look at the impact of the energy.

    Simply put, HANT impacted the magnetosphere in ways they are still trying to understand and was classified until recently. There's a reason this has been classified for the last 50 years.

    The magnetosphere is weakening folks and maybe accelerating. Thats established science. That means greater amounts of radiation is able to penetrate into the atmosphere. What happens when you increase energy input of an object? It heats up. It also means more potential cloud cover. Clouds were thought to increase cooling, well thats true but clouds can also increase warming. Clouds can work as either a reflective blanket or thermal blanket depending on type. Consider for a minute the desert. It absorbs the most energy heating up. It also releases that energy into space which is why deserts experience biggest temperature swings. Add cloud cover, less energy gets in but also less energy escapes. Studies have shown that we are experiencing surface warming but cooling  troposphere which correlates with an effect clouds can do. Hold energy in reflecting incoming energy back to space.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Space weather is not surface weather.  That NASA link does not support your claims.

    Nuclear weapons testing

    From 1945-2009 there were 2,402 surface and underground nuclear weapon tests.  Of those, 527 were conducted above-ground.  Of those, some 458 were conducted in the first 20 years of nuclear weapons testing.

    Looking at those peak years of testing, the forcing from those 20 years of peak tests of the nuclear weapons on the Earth came to about one eight-millionth of a Watt per square meter (8 x 10-6 W m-2) of power. 

    For comparison, the 1.8 Watts per square meter (1.8 W m-2) of CO2 radiative forcing as of 2011 generates approximately twenty nine billion, trillion Joules of energy (29 x 1021 J) over the Earth's surface in a single year, or more than ten thousand times as much energy in a year than the entire combined nuclear weapons program of the world had generated in those 20 years.

  35. Why would you remove my post about what chemtrails really are? A combination of airplane aerosol emissions with cosmic rays. A natural phenomenon caused when increase cosmic radiation is incoming from outside our solar system or our sun.

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Moderation complaints are a pretty fast way to get things deleted.

    General Warning

    Thank you for taking the time to share with us.  Skeptical Science is a user forum wherein the science of climate change can be discussed from the standpoint of the science itself.  Ideology and politics get checked at the keyboard.

    Please take the time to review the Comments Policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  36. BTW a decreasing magnetic field means increased cosmic radiation. Cosmic radiation can increase cloud cover, increase hurricane strength, and even lead to massive polar air moving to lower latitudes .

    Link to PDF


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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] If you want to argue cosmic rays, it is on-topic on this thread:

    Please read the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced tabs, and make sure you follow the Comments Policy.

  37. I understand that cosmic rays aren't germain to the articlr directly. However a weakened magnetic field allows more CR energy in. Its possible that the nuclear testing accelerated that weakening.

    The problem with compartmentalization by article topic is that no 1 thing is causing global warming. Multiple factors are at play. Thus its difficult to discuss.

    The earths orbit around the sun has brought the earth as close to the sun as it gets in a 400,000 year cycle. Thus the earth is receiving about maximum  solar radiation. With a weaker field, more solar radiation gets through and thus more absorption.

    Cloud cover is also a factor, which is impacted by moisture in the air, aerosols, & CRs. Clouds can reflect energy or keep radiation in like a thermal blanket.

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  38. In this animation, the blue lines indicate a weaker magnetic field, the red lines a stronger one, and the green line the boundary between them, at 10-year intervals from 1910 to 2020. The field is weakening over South America, and the red area over North America is losing strength

    The Magnetic Field Is Shifting. The Poles May Flip. This Could Get Bad.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please limit image widths to 450.

    Earth’s magnetic field is powered by fluid movements in the Earth’s liquid iron outer core, a convective flow called a geodynamo and is powered by gravity and the rotation of the Earth itself.  The solid iron inner core inhibits polarity reversals, with the result that such reversals seldom happen, even on geologic timescales.

    While the Earth's magnetic field is weakening a bit and its magnetic axis is shifting somewhat, magnetic field polarity changes have no effects on climate on the timescale of human lifetimes because air isn’t ferrous.  The effects on hand-held compasses are insignificant.  For purposes of electronic navigation, changes in the position of the magnetic poles are constantly updated in navigational databases.

    "The last time that Earth's poles flipped in a major reversal was about 780,000 years ago, in what scientists call the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal. The fossil record shows no drastic changes in plant or animal life. Deep ocean sediment cores from this period also indicate no changes in glacial activity, based on the amount of oxygen isotopes in the cores. This is also proof that a polarity reversal would not affect the rotation axis of Earth, as the planet's rotation axis tilt has a significant effect on climate and glaciation and any change would be evident in the glacial record."


    "The science shows that magnetic pole reversal is – in terms of geologic time scales – a common occurrence that happens gradually over millennia. While the conditions that cause polarity reversals are not entirely predictable – the north pole's movement could subtly change direction, for instance – there is nothing in the millions of years of geologic record to suggest that any of the 2012 doomsday scenarios connected to a pole reversal should be taken seriously."

    "Reversals take a few thousand years to complete, and during that time--contrary to popular belief--the magnetic field does not vanish. "It just gets more complicated," says Glatzmaier. Magnetic lines of force near Earth's surface become twisted and tangled, and magnetic poles pop up in unaccustomed places. A south magnetic pole might emerge over Africa, for instance, or a north pole over Tahiti. Weird. But it's still a planetary magnetic field, and it still protects us from space radiation and solar storms."

    Answers to many other related questions on that subject can be found here:

  39. Boston745 :

    With or without nuclear explosions, the Earth's magnetic field has negligible effect on climate.  Magnetic "reversals" are also of trivial importance.  The magnetosphere is very useful in protecting the planetary atmosphere from (geologically) rapid ablation . . . and useful for (partly) protecting your DNA from cosmic ray damage.  Another plus, is producing the beautiful auroral lights displays . . . and helping ham-radio operators etc with their long-wave communications.   But that's about it.  You are barking up the wrong tree.

    Likewise, with the idea of cosmic rays somehow altering climate.  There's lots of empirical evidence (plus experimental evidence) that the cosmic ray effect on climate is approximately zero [see the appropriate thread ~ linked at #37 above].  Forget about the cosmic-ray / climate connection.  It ain't there.  You are completely wasting your time on these things.  

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  40. Boston745 , you really should educate yourself by reading the large amount of scientific information available here on the SkS [SkepticalScience] website ~ included are links to peer-reviewed papers in respected scientific journals, and summaries given by NASA, NOAA, the American NAS, the UK Royal Society . . . in short, by all the peak scientific bodies internationally.  No exceptions.  Yes there are a few qualified scientists who disagree with the mainstream science ~ but those few "contrarian" scientists have only their opinions (They don't have any facts to back their opinions.  They are just hot air.)

    I reckon you're pulling my leg regarding: "I know it's not CO2 though".

    Barking up the wrong tree . . . could be worse!   Like: just barking . . . and no tree in sight.

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  41. You failed to address a single observation Ive made. You completely dismiss qualified scientists who disagree with the mainstream. And you put your faith in climate models that do not factor in things like clouds nor weakening magnetosphere. I'm sorry but it doesn't seem like you're after honest dialog.


    Atmospheric scientists have learned a great deal in the past many decades about how clouds form and move in Earth's atmospheric circulation. Investigators now realize that traditional computer models of global climate have taken a rather simple view of clouds and their effects, partly because detailed global descriptions of clouds have been lacking, and partly because in the past the focus has been on short-term regional weather prediction rather than on long-term global climate prediction. To address today's concerns, we need to accumulate and analyze more and better data to improve our understanding of cloud processes and to increase the accuracy of our weather and climate models.


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    Moderator Response:

    [DB]  Sloganeering and moderation complaints snipped.  Merely repeating a refuted assertion without citing credible sources to support your claims is sloganeering.  Models do indeed factor in cloud effects.  By definition, surface weather and climate are a product of phenomena and physical processes occurring primarily in the troposphere, with some effects occurring above the tropopause in the stratosphere.  A weakening magnetosphere or changes in magnetic field strength or polarity have no effects on surface climate because, essentially, air is not ferrous.  As for moderation complaints:

    "Moderation complaints are always off topic and will be deleted"

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

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  42. Boston745 , your "observations and associations" are just personal anecdotes.  Not scientific evidence.  They seem to be your "feelings".  Contrarians have all sorts of "feelings" ~ often mutually contradictory.  That's one of the reasons why they can't get their act together.

    Yes, those "qualified scientists" (who are very, very, very few) do deserve to be completely dismissed, since they completely fail to provide any valid evidence to overthrow the mainstream climate science.  They talk hot air ~ empty rhetoric.

    Instances : Drs Lindzen, Spencer, Curry  - failed ideas or vague blather based on religious beliefs.  No actual backing from scientific observations.  And even they don't bother to advocate "magnetospheres and cosmic rays".

    Boston745 , have you other "qualified scientists" who are contrarian enough to disagree with the mainstream science  - and what is their substantive evidence that they are right and the mainstream is wrong?  And why haven't they published it?   Major scientific journals would be enthusiastic & delighted to publish some really cutting-edge ground-breaking stuff !   But the contrarians can't come up with anything valid.

    Genuine science exists in the collective summary of peer-reviewed scientific papers in reputable journals  - it does not reside in fruitcake blogs such as WattsUpWithThat.  (If you wonder why I use the label fruitcake, then just go and read through WUWT. )

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  43. Boston745 @ 37 above, the known cycles of the Earth orbit are in the order of 100,000 yrs (eccentricity), 26,000 yrs (axial precession), 112,000 years (apsidal precession) and 41,000 yrs (obliquity). Can you reference your 400,000 years cycle?

    There is also ample evidence that the variations due to distance to the Sun are in fact minor factors in climate. All this can easily be found on NASA's web site.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Unfortunately, user boston745 has recused themselves from further participation here.

  44. The contribution of nuclear testing to global warming should be analyzed not by the total energy released by nuclear explosions wich is of course negligible over the earth surface but rather by the impact of radioactive radiation lasting for decades in the strata especially in the ozone layer wich has a very destructive and complex effect. Please see new study here:

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  45. I'm a professional chemical engineer with a bakground in nuclear weapons and an eidetic memory.  I have compiled a huge amount of data that proves that underground nuclear testing is the root cause of climate change.  In addtion, we have developed the thermodynamic equations, following the laws of Newton and Boltzman, that show us where we are headed and about how long it will take.  Please read the attached technical article that explains the reasoning.  In addition, there are links to my original hypothesis and the video I put out.

    Change the paradigm, save the world

    Clay W Hansen PE

    What really causes Global Warming and How it can be attenuated

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  46. Clay Hansen:

    Thank you for bringing data to Skeptical Science.  When I click on your link nothing opens.

    I note that in the counter in the upper right corner that the atmosphere has absorbed more than 3 billion Hiroshima bombs worth of energy.  I cannot imagine that the underground nuclear tests released a comparable amount of energy.  In addition, all of the energy was released decades ago while the climate continues to warm.  Perhaps you could summarize your findings here so that we do not have to access your entire original document.

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  47. Please see my posts at

    Basically, the article describes the earth based on a thermodymanic balance.  Using equations from Newton and Stephan/Boltzmann, we can determine, with confidence, how an impulse of quantum energy affects our climate.  With it, we can model a solar flare, an above ground nuclear test and a below ground nuclear test.  In each case, the energy of the earth increased and must therefore be dissipated to return to our previous state of equilibrium.  Above ground, the amount of energy we receive is only a fraction of the total amount possible.  In engineering terms, we call it the Shape Factor.  A shape factor on 1 is 100% and 0.5 is 50%, etc.  Above ground, the shape factor of a nuclear bomb is only maybe 20%.  In addition, the rock will reflect most of that 20% back.  However, underground, 100% of the energy is absorbed.

    Based on 89 megatons of TNT worth of nuclear detonations underground only, our temperature rise should be 2.95K by 2118, using standard thermodynamic equations.

    I do try to take a stab at how the energy got through the rock in my hypothesis.  I also show reliable correlations to recent nuclear testing and direct changes in CO2 global average delta.

    Our team has what I believe to be the perfect solution.  These data are also available on my website.

    Change the Paradigm, Save the world


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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please read the opening post and all the comments in this thread in their entirety before commenting further.  As noted in an earlier response, looking at those peak years of testing, the forcing from those 20 years of peak tests of the nuclear weapons on the Earth came to about one eight-millionth of a Watt per square meter (8 x 10-6 W m-2) of power

    For comparison, the 1.8 Watts per square meter (1.8 W m-2) of CO2 radiative forcing as of 2011 generates approximately twenty nine billion, trillion Joules of energy (29 x 1021 J) over the Earth's surface in a single year, or more than ten thousand times as much energy in a year than the entire combined nuclear weapons program of the world had generated in those 20 years.

    You are welcome to disagree with that, but in order to be taken seriously, you'll need to cite credible relevant sources and show your maths in your analysis.  

     Sloganeering snipped.

  48. Thank you and I apologize.  My lengthy text was in reply to someone asking for a summary of our article.  The link isn't working.  Of course, the article includes the math and citations.  It was ignorant of me to post those data without showing reference to our original piece.  Thank you very much for your advice!!! 

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  49. Clay Hansen:

    I was able to open the link in your first comment. It does not make your argument stronger.

    A few key errors:

    • Equations 2 and 3 are incorrect. You have assumed that energy in = energy out (solar vs earth's emissions to space).
      • It takes time for the earth-atmosphere system to respond to an imbalance between energy in and energy out.
      • The speed at which it responds depends on the heat capacity.
      • For the atmpsphere only - ignoring land or water - the e-folding time is on the order of 200 days.
      • If you include the ocean mixed layer (60 to 70m depth), we are talking a decade or two for it to respond to an energy imbalance.
      • The deeper ocean takes even longer.
      • It is impossible to model temperatures on an annual basis without inclduing these heat capacity issues and non-equilibrium conditions.
    • Equation 4 is incorrect. You have assumed that the energy in can be calculated from the difference between the σT4 terms for solar (6000K) and terrestrial (assuming about 255K or 288K, you don't specify) along with a "shape factor".
      • No such constant "shape factor" can be used for both sources (solar, terrestrial).
      • σT4 for solar temperature gives a flux at the surface of the sun. The earth is not located that close to the sun. You need to account for the difference in area between a sphere with the radius of the sun, and a sphere with a radius of the earth's distance from the sun.
      • The solar radiation received from the sun also needs to be reduced by a factor of 1/4 to account for the area of the earth as a sphere vs the area of the earth as a disk.
      • The solar radiation absorbed by the earth also need to account for global albedo.
      • You may claim that your shape factor accounts for this - but the "shape factor" for solar radiation (which is simple geometry) is vastly different from any "shape factor" for earth's emissions to space, and you only have one "shape factor".
      • Since the solar "shape factor" is purely geometric, it will not vary over time as you assume in equation 5b.

    Given these fundamental errors in the first equations of your model, the rest is nonsense. I did not bother to try to follow the rest of your mathematics, as the initial assumptions are fundamentally wrong.

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  50. ClayHansen99,

    While [roblems with your equations can presumably be sorted, there appears to be some fundmental problems with a thesis that argues the increase in atmospheric CO2 results from nuclear tests releasing CO2 from the oceans.

    The generally accepted view (as set out by, for instance, the Global Carbon Project who enumerate rising atmospheric CO2 since 1780) is that there is today something like 11Gt(C) of CO2 is annually released by humankind into the atmosphere and any proposal of an alternative source for the atmospheric increase in CO2 will have to identify what happens to that annual 11Gt(C) of CO2 release by humankind.

    And if an appropriate CO2 sink is identified allowing the true source to be argued as the oceans, the generally accepted view is that there are already CO2 sinks in operation as only half the humankind release remains in the atmosphere. One of those sinks is the oceans. So if the true source is to be argued as the oceans, the thesis would have to be backed by evidence showing a loss of CO2 from the oceans, this overturning the evidence currently generally accepted showing the oceans to be a major sink of atmospheric CO2 not a source.

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