Death is very likely and radiation poisoning is almost certain if one is trapped outdoors without masking effects of the terrain or building within a radius of 0 to 3 km from a 1 megaton aerial blast, and the 50% chance of death from the explosion extends to ~8 km from the same atmospheric explosion of 1 megaton. Heat is a problem for those closest to the explosion. Minor first-degree burns can occur up to 11 km (6.8 miles) away, and third-degree burns, the type that destroys and blisters skin tissue, can affect anyone up to 8 km (5 miles) away. Third-degree burns that cover more than 24 percent of the body would likely be fatal if people don't get medical care right away.
Live Science has the support of its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We explain why you can trust us. By Stephanie Pappas Tia Ghose Contributions Published 10 March 22, Here's what to expect when you wait for Armageddon.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has increased the risk of nuclear conflict. What would the explosion of a nuclear bomb look like for those on the ground and what would happen next? The answer depends, of course, on how many weapons are launched. Russia and the United States have 90% of the world's nuclear weapons, says Federation of American Scientists (opens in a new tab). Russia has 1,588 weapons deployed on intercontinental missiles, which have a range of at least 3,417 miles (5,500 kilometers) and heavy bomber bases, which house aircraft capable of carrying and releasing a nuclear charge, and the U.S.
UU. It has 1,644 weapons prepared in the same way. The two countries also have nearly 5,000 other active bombs between them that are in operation and that are simply waiting for launches. Perhaps a more likely scenario, according to some foreign policy experts, involves a limited-scale nuclear conflict using so-called tactical atomic weapons.
According to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (opens in a new tab), 30-40% of the U.S. And Russian arsenals are made up of these smaller bombs, which have a range of less than 310 miles (500 kilometers) by land and less than 372 miles (600 km) by sea or air. These weapons would continue to have devastating impacts near the explosion zone, but they would not create the worst case of global nuclear apocalypse. There are different types and sizes of nuclear weapons, but modern bombs start by triggering a fission reaction.
Fission is the division of the nuclei of heavy atoms into lighter atoms, a process that releases neutrons. These neutrons, in turn, can precipitate into the nuclei of nearby atoms, splitting them and triggering a chain reaction out of control. The government website Ready, gov (opens in a new tab) reports that anyone with a prior warning, whether from official communications or seeing a flash of a nearby detonation, moves to a basement or the center of a large building and stays there for at least 24 hours to avoid the worst fallout. Radiation is the secondary, and far more insidious, consequence of a nuclear explosion.
Fission bombs dropped on Japan created local repercussions, according to Nuclear Choices for the Twenty-First Century, but modern thermonuclear weapons drop radioactive material high in the stratosphere (the middle layer of the Earth's atmosphere), allowing global precipitation. The level of precipitation depends on whether the bomb detonates above the ground in a gust of air, which worsens global rainfall but dampens the immediate effect at ground zero, or on the ground, limiting the overall impact but devastating to the immediate area. The risk of rain is most serious in the 48 hours after the explosion. According to the Nuclear War Survival Skills manual (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1981), in the absence of snow or rain, the fastest distant particles may have minimal radioactivity by when they float to Earth, according to the Nuclear War Survival Skills manual (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 198.48 hours after the explosion, an area who is initially exposed to 1000 roentgens (one unit of ionizing radiation) per hour will experience only 10 roentgens per hour of radiation, according to Nuclear War Survival Skills.
According to the manual, about half of people who receive a total radiation dose of approximately 350 roentgens for a couple of days are likely to die from acute radiation poisoning. For comparison, a typical abdominal CT scan can expose people to less than 1 roentgen. Depending on the magnitude of a nuclear conflict, explosions could even affect the climate. To maximize your chances of surviving a nuclear attack, Ready, the government recommends having an emergency supply kit handy in a safe location.
The same kit can also be used during other disasters, such as hurricanes or prolonged power outages. Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, which covers topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology, to the human brain and behavior. Previously she was a senior writer for Live Science, but now she is a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and a regular contributor to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Please refresh the page and try again. Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and a leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site (opens in a new tab). A suitcase bomb would produce a very destructive nuclear explosion, but not as large as that of a nuclear weapon developed for strategic military purposes.
With the recent threats of terrorism, many people have expressed concern about the likelihood and effects of a nuclear explosion. . .