New START, eyjafjallajkull, and nuclear winter

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On 8 April 2010, U.S. president Barack Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev signed the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, committing the United States and Russia to reducing their nuclear arsenals to levels less than 5% of the maximum during the height of the cold war in the 1980s. This treaty is called "New START," as it is a follow-on to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START). On 14 April 2010 the Eyjafjallajkull volcano in Iceland began an explosive eruption phase that shut down air traffic in Europe for 6 days and continued to disrupt it for another month. What do these two events have in common? Nuclear weapons, when targeted at cities and industrial areas, would start fires, producing clouds of sooty smoke. Volcanic eruptions emit ash particles and sulfur dioxide (SO 2), which forms sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere. Thus, both the use of nuclear weapons and volcanic eruptions produce particles that can be transported large distances from the source and can affect weather and climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-445
Number of pages2
Issue number47
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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