If North Korea dropped its Hydrogen bomb on Auckland, this is what would happen

January 7, 2016 4:14 am

 A TV screen shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announcing North Korea had conducted a powerful hydrogen bomb test. Photo / AP

The announcement by North Korea that it had carried out a nuclear
test brought to the front lines of global attention a phrase not often
heard since the Cold War – “the H-bomb.”
As opposed to the atomic
bomb, the kind dropped on Japan in the closing days of World War II,
the hydrogen bomb, or so-called “superbomb” can be far more powerful –
experts say, by 1000 times or more.
North Korea’s first three
nuclear tests, from 2006 to 2013, were A-bombs on roughly the same scale
as the ones used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which together killed more
than 200,000 people. Pyongyang announced that it had detonated its first
H-bomb; while seismic data supported the claim of a large explosion,
there was no immediate way to confirm the type.

Atomic bombs rely on fission, or atom-splitting, just as
nuclear power plants do. The hydrogen bomb, also called the
thermonuclear bomb, uses fusion, or atomic nuclei coming together, to
produce explosive energy. Stars also produce energy through fusion.
“Think
what’s going on inside the sun,” says Takao Takahara, professor of
international politics and peace research at Meiji Gakuin University in
Tokyo. “In theory, the process is potentially infinite. The amount of
energy is huge.”
The technology of the hydrogen bomb is more
sophisticated, and once attained, it is a greater threat. They can be
made small enough to fit on a head of an intercontinental missile.

“That
the bomb can become compact is the characteristic, and so this means
North Korea has the US in mind in making this H-bomb announcement,” says
Tatsujiro Suzuki, professor at the Research Centre for Nuclear Weapons
Abolition at Nagasaki University.
But the H-bomb requires more
technology in control and accuracy because of the greater amount of
energy involved, he said. Both the A-bomb and H-bomb use radioactive
material like uranium and plutonium for the explosive material.
Theoretically,
this is the effect the device North Korea has tested would have if it
was detonated above , as well as a 350 kiloton, the type which
the US currently has in its arsenal (the following screengrabs are from NukeMap by Alex Wellerstien).
Effects of 6 kiloton airburst

The effects of a 6kt device - the one North Korea has tested - detonated above Auckland. Photo / Nukemap
The effects of a 6kt device – the one North Korea has tested – detonated above Auckland. Photo / Nukemap
• Fireball radius: 120 metres
• Maximum size of the nuclear fireball:
If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is
significantly increased. Minimum burst height for negligible fallout:
110 metres.
• Radiation radius: 0.99km (3.1km/2)
• Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns):
1.2 km (4.56km/2). Third degree burns extend throughout the layers of
skin, and are often painless because they destroy the pain nerves. They
can cause severe scarring or disablement, and can require amputation.
Effects of 350 kiloton airburst

The effects of a 350kt device - the type the US has in its arsenal - detonated above Auckland. Photo / Nukemap
The effects of a 350kt device – the type the US has in its arsenal – detonated above Auckland. Photo / Nukemap
• Fireball radius: 0.63km (1.27km/2)
• Maximum size of the nuclear fireball;
If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is
significantly increased. Minimum burst height for negligible fallout:
0.57km.
• Air blast: Most residential buildings
collapse, injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread. Optimal
height of burst to maximize this effect is 2.2km.
• Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 7.67km (185km/2).
The
hydrogen bomb is in fact already the global standard for the five
nations with the greatest nuclear capabilities: the US, Russia, France,
the UK and China. Other nations may also either have it or may be
working on it, despite a worldwide effort to contain such proliferation.
The
hydrogen bomb was never dropped on any targets. It was first
successfully tested in the 1950s by the US, in bombs called Mike and
Bravo. Soviet tests soon followed.

The 1956 test of an H-Bomb over Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. Photo / AP
The 1956 test of an H-Bomb over Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. Photo / AP
The crew of a Japanese fishing boat that unknowingly went
into the waters near the nuclear testing of Bravo got acute radiation
sickness. Since the 1960s, nuclear tests have gone underground to reduce
radioactive fallout.
Terumi Tanaka, head of Nihon Hidankyo, or
the Japan Federation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, has been
working to ban nuclear weapons for years and was stunned by reports of
the H-bomb test.
“It defies hopes for progress,” he said. “I am outraged.”

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