by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 2 February 2005
Effects of high-altitude nuclear explosions
Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is important only for high altitude bursts. For such detonations, ionization of the upper atmosphere can produce a brief intense pulse of radio frequency radiation which can damage or disrupt electronic devices. For explosions above most of the atmosphere, EMP can affect large areas.
Ionization of the atmosphere from explosions in the atmosphere can interfere with radar and radio communications for short periods.
Charged particles released by explosions above the Earth's atmosphere can be captured by the Earth's magnetic field, temporarily creating radiation belts that can spacecraft or astronauts/cosmonauts in orbit.
© 2005 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 2 February 2005.
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