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World War II Bombings Were So Powerful They Sent Shockwaves to Space

September 27, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Many Allied bombings released the equivalent energy of 300 lightning strikes and temporarily weakened the ionosphere, say researchers.


A Royal Air Force bomber making an attack on a German synthetic oil plant in 1944 during World War II.

Many Allied bombings released the equivalent energy of 300 lightning strikes and temporarily weakened the ionosphere, say researchers.

During World War II, Allied bombing raids left their devastating mark on Germany, killing more than 400,000 civilians and laying waste to entire cities, from Berlin to Hamburg to Dresden.

The bombings were so intense that, according to new research, they sent shockwaves all the way to the edge of space and briefly weakened the outermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere, known as the ionosphere.

By studying daily records at the Radio Research Center in Slough, in the United Kingdom, a team of researchers tracked how the concentration of electrons in the ionosphere changed around the time of 152 Allied air raids in Europe. These included major bombing raids of German cities between 1943-45, as well as those bombs dropped in support of the major Allied landing at Normandy that began on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

During the conflict, Royal Air Force (RAF) and other Allied planes could carry much more weight than their counterparts in the German Luftwaffe. This allowed them to deploy such monster bombs as the “Grand Slam,” which weighed in at some 22,000 pounds and left a crater some 70 feet deep and 130 feet around during a top-secret test in March 1945.


The British Grand Slam bomb.

The researchers who conducted the new study found that when Allied bombs hit the ground, the shockwaves reached as far as 1,000 kilometers (or 621 miles) into the air. This heated up the upper atmosphere and caused the concentration of electrons in it to drop, resulting in a temporary weakness in the ionosphere.

According to their findings, published in the European Geosciences Union journal Annales Geophysicae, each bombing raid released the energy of 300 lightning strikes. Evidence showed that even though the bombs exploded in Germany, the changes could be seen in the ionosphere above Slough, hundreds of miles away.

“These were very temporary effects which heated the atmosphere very slightly,” the new study’s co-author, Chris Scott, a space and atmospheric physicist from the University of Reading (U.K.), told BBC News. “The effects …read more

Source: HISTORY

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