As a result of the impact, the atmosphere would become loaded with nitric oxide, causing massive amounts of acid rain. As they become acidified, the lakes and rivers would have reduced amounts of dissolved organic carbons, which would allow much greater penetration of ultraviolet light.
At first, of course, the ultraviolet rays would be blocked by the dust cloud, which sets the stage for a greater disaster later on. Many animals depend on some exposure to ultraviolet light to keep operational their biological protective mechanisms against it - without any such light, those protective mechanisms would be eroded or lost.
During the extended winter, animals across the biological spectrum would become weaker, starved and more vulnerable. Many would die. Then comes ultraviolet spring, shining down on surviving plants and animals that have lost their resistance to ultraviolet radiation and penetrating more deeply, with greater intensity, into shallow waters than it ever has before.
"By our calculations, the dust cloud would shield the Earth from ultraviolet light for an extended period, with it taking about 390 days after impact before enough dust settled that there would be an ultraviolet level equal to before the impact. After that, the ozone depletion would cause levels of ultraviolet radiation to at least double, about 600 days after impact."
According to their study, these factors would lead to ultraviolet-related DNA damage about 1,000 times higher than normal, and general ultraviolet damage to plants about 500 times higher than normal. Ultraviolet radiation can cause mutations, cancer, and cataracts. It can kill plants or slow their growth, suppressing the photosynthesis which forms the base of the worlds food chain.
Smaller asteroid impacts which have happened far more frequently in Earths history, the researchers said, theoretically might cause simil
Contact: Andrew Blaustein
Oregon State University