Mushroom Cloud
A representational image of a nuclear attack.Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear war can be catastrophic to life on earth - everyone has probably heard that line more times than they can remember.

The after effects of a nuclear war has been written about in non-fiction, described in fiction and visualised in films and documentaries.

However this time, a team of scientists have tried to explain, in a new study published in the Earth's Future journal, what would become of the world, if a "limited regional nuclear war" were to break out.

The consequences include a nine percent decrease in rainfall every year; and a two to three degree decrease in global temperatures. From a layman's perspective, it sounds as if there would not be much change to the planet.

However, this kind of a drastic change to the planet's climate and temperature could turn out to be catastrophic, not only to the planet but also to the life on it.

A nuclear explosion would be followed by everything in the surrounding becoming extremely hot. As a result of this explosion, little particles of carbon would start to rise up from the bombed site, into the atmosphere. This carbon, which gets collected in the atmosphere, would absorb sunlight, letting very little or none of it out.

As a result of this, the atmosphere, where all the sunlight is absorbed by the carbon, gets hotter, and the earth, which gets very little of the sunlight, gets cooler. This artificial winter could last up to 25 years, according to researchers.

The earth has seen its fair share of low or high temperatures but natural cooling or heating up takes a long time, and this allows the atmosphere and the ground to adapt to the conditions. 

However, this huge difference between the temperatures of the air and the ground would cause a lot of harm to the planet.

This would affect the life on earth; as such a drastic change in the climate is bound to adversely affect the vegetation on the planet. These changes would be felt, not only in the place of impact of the nuclear explosion but also in the places throughout the rest of the planet. Also, the excessively high temperatures in the atmosphere could cause skin cancer in human beings.

Scientists predict that a nuclear holocaust between India and Pakistan could reduce the rainfall in the rest of Asia from 20 to 80 percent. This would shorten the monsoon period (when paddy or rice is mainly grown) by around 40 percent, causing a huge decline in the productivity of rice.

As Asia is one of the biggest producers of rice in the world, this huge reduction in the production of rice would invariably affect international trade.