Novaya Zemlya, Tsar Bomba Detonation, Rapid Arctic Warming ?
Courtesy of Raja Sohail Bashir
In the following glorious passage, the anthropologist, educator and natural science writer Loren Eiseley offers a striking warning as regards unbridled atomic power:
It is with the coming of man that a vast hole seems to open in nature,
a vast black whirlpool,
spinning faster and faster,
consuming flesh, stone, soil, minerals,
sucking down the lightning,
wrenching power from the atom,
until the ancient sounds of nature are drowned out in the cacophony of something which is no longer nature,
something instead which is loose and knocking at the world’s heart,
something demonic and no longer planned,
escaped it may be,
spewed out of nature,
contending in a final giant’s game against its master
Video Courtesy of Margo
Video Courtesy of Margo
The Soviet RDS-220 hydrogen bomb (code name Ivan or Vanya), known by Western nations as Tsar Bomba (Russian: Царь-бо́мба, tr. Tsar’-bómba, IPA: [t͡sarʲ ˈbombə], lit. Tsar bomb), was the most powerful nuclear weapon ever created. Tested on 30 October 1961 as an experimental verification of calculation principles and multi-stage thermonuclear weapon designs, it also remains the most powerful explosive ever detonated. It was also referred to as Kuzma’s mother (Russian: Ку́зькина ма́ть, tr. Kúz’kina mát’, IPA: [ˈkusʲkʲɪnə ˈmatʲ]), possibly referring to First secretary Nikita Khrushchev‘s promise to “show the United States a Kuzma’s mother” (an idiom roughly translating to “We’ll show you”) at a 1960 session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The bomb was detonated in secret but was detected by US Intelligence agencies. The US apparently had an instrumented KC-135R (Operation SpeedLight) in the area of the test, close enough to have been scorched by the blast.  The bhangmeter results and other data suggested the bomb yielded about 58 megatons of TNT [Mt] (240 PJ), and that was the accepted yield in the literature until the Soviet scientists revealed that their instruments indicated a yield of 50 Mt (210 PJ) in 1991. As they had the instrumental data and access to the test site, their yield figure has been accepted as more correct.
In theory, the bomb would have had a yield in excess of 100 Mt (420 PJ) if it had included a uranium-238 tamper, but because only one bomb was built, that capability has never been demonstrated. The single bomb was detonated at the Sukhoy Nos (“Dry Nose”) cape of Severny Island, Novaya Zemlya, 15 km (9.3 mi) from Mityushikha Bay, north of Matochkin Strait.
Many codenames are attributed to the Tsar Bomba: Project 7000; product code 202 (Izdeliye 202), “Product V” (izdeliye V); article designations RDS-220 (РДС-220), RDS-202 (РДС-202), RN202 (PH202, incorrect codename as the AN602 is a modification of the RN202), AN602 (AH602); codename Vanya; nicknames Big Ivan, Kuzkina mat. The name “Tsar Bomba” was coined in an analogy with other massive Russian objects: the Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon. The CIA designated the test as “JOE 111”.
In addition to being created for political, propagandistic use and as a response to the nuclear deterrence capabilities then possessed by the United States, the Tsar Bomba was created as part of the strategic nuclear forces concept of the USSR, adopted during the rule of Georgy Malenkov and Nikita Khrushchev, to achieve—without pursuing a quantitative parity with the US in terms of nuclear weapons and means of delivery—sufficient “guaranteed retaliation with an unacceptable level of damage to the enemy” in the event of a nuclear strike on the USSR via qualitatively superior nuclear power.
The “Malenkov-Khrushchev nuclear doctrine” involved the adoption of geopolitical and military challenges to the United States and the participation of the USSR in the nuclear race, but “in a distinctly asymmetrical style”. The technical manifestation of this undocumented doctrine was the research-and-development of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, the former large enough to completely (or nearly) wipe out large cities and entire urbanized regions in one strike (i.e. with a single payload and a single aircraft). An example of this would be the creation of the N-1 orbital combat rocket (GRAU index 11A52) per the Resolution of the Council of Ministers issued on 23 June 1960. With a starting weight of 2200 tons and a nuclear warhead weighing 75 tons, its estimated nuclear yield (though unknown exactly) could surpass that of a 150-ton-yield 40-ton warhead delivered by a UR-500 missile.
However the development of such weapons also required mandatory and practical aerial bombardment methods, as for a high-yield (thermo-)nuclear explosion to reach maximal effect, the payload has to be detonated at an optimal height for the shock wave to reach the greatest force and range of propagations. In addition, ultra-large-yield thermonuclear bombs were considered by the Long Range Aviation units of the USSR, as their use fits the “cause the greatest damage to the enemy with a minimal number of carriers (i.e. bombers)” doctrine, while it was also necessary to consider the practical feasibility of such heavy thermonuclear weapons with reliably predictable characteristics. Before this, however, a massive underwater “doomsday weapon” considered by Soviet military and technical experts—essentially a giant torpedo launched by a dedicated nuclear submarine—was planned for development, which would detonate its nuclear warhead near the US coast, causing a massive tsunami. However, this project (known as the T-15 torpedo) was soon abandoned as its actual combat effectiveness was questionable after more detailed consideration.