In other question we've been discussing factors of the nuclear winter effect, soot among them. In this one I'd like to narrow the list down to soot, more precisely to ask about its ability to absorb ultraviolet and re-radiate infrared.

An argument by the other member goes like this:

Nuclear winter (solar radiation blocked by soot) wouldn’t be that troublesome. High altitude soot is the “perfect” absorber and reradiator of infrared energy. Nights would be warmer –as are normal cloudy nights- and days a bit cooler. Some energy would be lost by reradiation to space but most conserved by earthward reradiation of ultraviolet converted to infrared by soot absorption. – TomO

It is not clear to me in what ways can this property of soot contribute to the nuclear winter effect or have an impact on climate. Especially I had hard time in understanding the last part of the argument, bolded (by me) Can anyone explain this mechanism and elaborate on it? Are there studies/sources that back the statement or challenge it?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Because it's black? Black things absorb light (by definition!), which warms them up, so they reradiate the energy in the infrared. While I've never seen a UV absorbtion spectrum for soot, I suspect it's black at those wavelengths as well. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Nov 17, 2017 at 19:44


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