Devastating Effects An Asteroid Impact Would Have on the Earth and the Human Body
RESEARCHERS have described the ways in which humanity could die out if an asteroid were to strike Earth, with only a small fraction of the casualties coming from the impact itself.
The aftermath of an asteroid impact would be more deadly than the collision itself, researchers have said.
Earthquakes, tsunamis, wind blasts and a sudden change in air pressure are likely to be more devastating than the impact itself.
A team from the University of Southampton said that an asteroid exploding in the sky or hitting land rather than water would be the most deadly.
They wrote: “The analysis of average casualty numbers per impactor [asteroid] shows that there is a significant difference in expected loss for airburst and surface impacts and that the average impact over land is an order of magnitude more dangerous than one over water.”
Wind blasts would be the “most critical impact effect” with such strong wind speeds that they have the potential to “dislocate bodies and objects to cause harm”.
An asteroid just 18 metres wide could tear human limbs off through wind blasts.
Overpressure, or shockwaves, could also be catastrophic as it has the ability to “rupture internal organs”.
A prolonged downfall of humanity could be attributed to the the amount of debris that the asteroid impact would throw into the air, which would cause drastic changes in the climate and lead to food shortages.
However, tsunamis are less of a risk than previously thought as they “can only reach near-coastal populations because their inland reach is limited to a few kilometres”.
Lead researcher Clemens Rumpf said: “The likelihood of an asteroid impact is really low, but the consequences can be unimaginable.”