UNIC Scientific Research Provides Insight on How to Shelter from a Nuclear Explosion

The paper entitled ‘Nuclear explosion impact on humans indoors’ has resulted in several thousand of downloads, and was featured in over hundred media outlets and TV stations around the globe

A new research paper by University of Nicosia (UNIC) researchers Dr Ioannis Kokkinakis and Professor Dimitris Drikakis, has attracted worldwide attention by offering insight on how we can shelter from a nuclear explosion. Within 6 days from its publishing, the paper has resulted in several of thousand of downloads and over hundred media outlets and TV stations around the globe.

The paper entitled ‘Nuclear explosion impact on humans indoors’ is based on the simulation of an atomic bomb explosion from a typical intercontinental ballistic missile and the resulting blast wave, which shows how it would affect people sheltering indoors.

The team used advanced computer modeling to study how a nuclear blast wave speeds through a standing structure. Their simulated structure featured rooms, windows, doorways, and corridors and allowed them to calculate the speed of the air following the blast wave and determine the best and worst places to be.

The study concludes that in the moderate damage zone, the blast wave is enough to topple some buildings and injure people caught outdoors. However, sturdier buildings, such as concrete structures, can remain standing.

“Before our study, the danger to people inside a concrete-reinforced building that withstands the blast wave was unclear,” said author Professor Dimitris Drikakis. “Our study shows that high airspeeds remain a considerable hazard and can still result in severe injuries or even fatalities.”

According to their results, simply being in a sturdy building is not enough to avoid risk. The tight spaces can increase airspeed, and the involvement of the blast wave causes air to reflect off walls and bend around corners. In the worst cases, this can produce a force equivalent to 18 times a human’s body weight.

“The most dangerous critical indoor locations to avoid are the windows, the corridors, and the doors,” said author Dr Ioannis Kokkinakis. “People should stay away from these locations and immediately take shelter. Even in the front room facing the explosion, one can be safe from the high airspeeds if positioned at the corners of the wall facing the blast.”

The authors stress that the time between the explosion and the arrival of the blast wave is only a few seconds, so quickly getting to a safe place is critical.

“Additionally, there will be increased radiation levels, unsafe buildings, damaged power and gas lines, and fires,” said Professor Drikakis. “People should be concerned about all the above and seek immediate emergency assistance.”

While the authors hope that their advice will never need to be followed, they believe that understanding the effects of a nuclear explosion can help prevent injuries and guide rescue efforts.

Watch the simulation videos here and here.