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The computer-modeling study showed a nuclear war between the two countries involving 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear devices on each side would cause massive urban fires and loft as much as 5 million metric tons of soot about 50 miles into the stratosphere, said CU-Boulder Research Associate Michael Mills, chief study author. The soot would absorb enough solar radiation to heat surrounding gases, setting in motion a series of chemical reactions that would break down the stratospheric ozone layer protecting Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation, said Mills. We would see a dramatic drop in ozone levels that would persist for many years, said Mills of CU-Boulders Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. At mid- latitudes the ozone decrease would be up to 40 percent, which could have huge effects on human health and on terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems.
Two 2006 studies led by Toon and involving UCLA and Rutgers University showed that such a small-scale regional nuclear war could produce as many fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt global climate for a decade or more. .