RESEARCHERS have suggested that nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War may have altered rainfall patterns in Shetland – despite detonations taking place thousands of miles away.
A team of scientists from universities in Reading, Bath and Bristol studied data from 1962 to 1964 from Met Office weather stations in Lerwick and at Kew near London.
They wanted to see if electric charges released by radiation from test detonations – usually carried out by the US and the Soviet Union in areas like Nevada and the Pacific and Arctic islands in the 1950s and 1960s – affected rainclouds.
Scientists concluded that there was “significant changes occurred in daily rainfall distribution” at the Shetland weather station outside of normal pollution.
The study compared days with high and low radioactively-generated charge, with scientists finding that clouds were visibly thicker, while there was 24 per cent more rain on average on the days with more radioactivity.
Lead author and professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Reading professor Giles Harrison said: “By studying the radioactivity released from Cold War weapons tests, scientists at the time learnt about atmospheric circulation patterns. We have now reused this data to examine the effect on rainfall.
“The politically charged atmosphere of the Cold War led to a nuclear arms race and worldwide anxiety. Decades later, that global cloud has yielded a silver lining, in giving us a unique way to study how electric charge affects rain.”
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 390 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News