Study: Even 'limited nuclear war' could cause catastrophic climate change

The concept of nuclear weapons may bring about images of large bombs causing apocalyptic destruction, but a new study points out an entirely different—though still highly destructive—scenario.

The team, from the University of Nebraska, focused instead on the potential effect smaller bombs could have in causing a bleak, climate-related phenomenon known as a "nuclear autumn."

According to Gizmodo, it is a slightly less intense version of a nuclear winter which has been described as "a severe and protracted global cooling event triggered by an all-out nuclear war..."

However, a nuclear autumn would still cause catastrophic global damage to humans and ecosystems, with the paper noting that previous models have indicated "great reductions in agricultural productivity, stratospheric ozone loss, and spread of hazardous radioactive fallout."

Based on an analysis of weapons held by countries with nuclear arsenals—the U.S., the U.K, France, Russia, and China, researchers determined, as Gizmodo has reported, that "the US, Russia, and China all have weapons that could trigger a nuclear autumn through the detonation of fewer than five bombs. This includes nuclear warheads placed atop air-dropped bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and land-based missiles."

Despite already having such powerful weapons, President Trump said in February that he would like to add additional capabilities to the U.S arsenal.

He told Reuters, "It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."

This echoes a tweet he had posted during the transition period, stating, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."