I have often wondered if the severe winter of 1962-63 across Europe was caused by, or in someway enhanced by the nuclear testing that was going on at the time by the Soviet Union and Americans. If you are looking for an answer to that question in this blog you won’t find one, it was an open question to anyone out there to maybe drop me a line and say one way or the other that it was or it wasn’t! Certainly the nuclear testing did reach a peak in 1961 just after the cessation in testing caused by the Cuban missile crisis. You only need to look at the graph to see just how much it affected the superpowers in 1959, both sides were very edgy, as the world stood at the edge of a great precipice, and to a great extent still is.
On October 31, 1961 the Soviet Union detonated the Tsar Bomba the largest thermonuclear weapon ever tested on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, scaled down by 50% from its original hundred megaton design. This explosion alone must have released a lot of dust into the upper atmosphere similar to a large volcanic eruption. After doing a trawl on the internet it does look like the consensus of opinion is that it had a minute effect on raising global temperatures, which is pretty obvious and what you would expect, but there was little mention of the effects of the vast quantities of the dust shot into the upper atmosphere would have. That may indeed have had a short term effect on the weather across the world during the following years, as did the thirty years of testing that followed it.
Perhaps my speculation can be explained away by coincidence, and that Europe was overdue a severe winter, but the 1960’s were never known for being a very warm or settled decade across the UK, and it maybe that these tests did in some way ‘unsettle’ the weather machine that is our atmosphere. A quick glance at the CET annual means since 1878 align very nicely with a conspiracy theory that nuclear tests did in someway suppress global temperatures.
Coincidentally the following week I noticed an article in the Carbon Brief blog about the possibility that the second world war bombing and contributed to some degree of global cooling.