It’s a theoretical concept describing the possibility that after a nuclear blast, soot and smoke would block the sunlight so thouroughly that heat could not get through and the climate would actually change.
The idea of nuclear winter is a concept that if nuclear bombs exploding at ground level released enough dust into the air, it would simulate the effects of a large volcanic eruption (volcanic winter) or asteroid impact (impact winter). The dust would blot out the sun, reduce the ability of vegetation to grow and limit solar insolation, causing the temperatures to drop. This would be a major climatic change and likely a cause of mass extinctions. The idea first became a fear during the nuclear arms race that peaked in the 1980s. The possibilities of a similar occurrence today are continually being studied.
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