Cold War Nuclear Weapons Tests Changed Rainfall Thousands of Miles From Detonation Sites
Scientists at the University of Reading have researched how the electric charge released by radiation from the test detonations, carried out predominantly by the US and Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s, affected rainclouds at the time.
The study, published in Physical Review Letters, used historic records between 1962-64 from a research station in Scotland. Scientists compared days with high and low radioactively-generated charge, finding that clouds were visibly thicker, and there was 24% more rain on average on the days with more radioactivity.
Although detonations were carried out in remote parts of the world, such as the Nevada Desert in the US, and on Pacific and Arctic islands, radioactive pollution spread widely throughout the atmosphere. Radioactivity ionises the air, releasing electric charge.