Vladimir Valentinovich Alexandrov (Russian: Владимир Валентинович Александров; born 1938; disappeared 1985) was a Russian physicist who created a mathematical model for the nuclear winter theory. He disappeared while at a nuclear winter conference in Madrid and his ultimate fate remains unknown.
According to a FBI white paper Alexandrov was a mathematician specializing in computer sciences. In 1976 he was directed to shift his research from gas dynamics and plasma mechanics to climatology. He was sent to USA under a research exchange agreement, and studied at the NCAR in 1978, 1980 and 1982. In 1983 he was directed by Evgeny Velikhov to work on nuclear winter scenarios heading an ad hoc group of 20 scientists.
A pioneer in global climate modelling, he presented a mathematical solution to baroclinicity in 1982. The following year, with G.I. Stenchikov, he used the model to calculate the consequences of nuclear war and the prospects of nuclear winter. Richard P. Turco, a major figure in the development of the nuclear winter scenario, described Alexandrov and Stenchikov's model as "a very weak piece of work" and "a primitive rendition of an obsolete US model."
How Alexandrov disappeared and what happened to him afterward remains unknown, but several theories have been put forward. According to an article in the newsmagazine Time in October 1985, "The mystery of his disappearance has been compounded by the suspicions of some Western scientists that the nuclear winter scenario was promoted by Moscow to give antinuclear groups in the U.S. and Europe some fresh ammunition against America's arms buildup. Conspiracy theorists speculate that Alexandrov was planning to renounce the nuclear winter concept and may have been kidnapped by the KGB. According to another theory, the physicist defected to the West." A. Levakov suggests that his work on nuclear winter was as embarrassing to the Soviet Union as it was to the USA. According to the Mitrokhin Archive, during a conference in 1987 the head of the KGB's First Chief Directorate Vladimir Kryuchkov accused the CIA's Deputy Director Robert Gates of kidnapping Alexandrov and holding him against his will. Andrew Revkin assumes that he was a spy; it was never clear whether for the USSR, USA, or both.
- Interagency Intelligence Assessment (1984): The Soviet Approach to Nuclear Winter, page 10-11
- Alexandrov, V. V. 1982. A general atmospheric circulation model with baroclinic arrangement. Rep. Acad. Sci. USSR 265(5):1094-1097.
- Alexandrov, V. V. and G. I. Stenchikov (1983): "On the modeling of the climatic consequences of the nuclear war" The Proceeding of Appl. Mathematics, 21 p., The Computing Center of the AS USSR, Moscow.
- Laurence Badash, A Nuclear Winter's Tale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009
- Vera Rich, “Nuclear winter expert vanishes without trace,” Nature, Vol. 316, 4 July 1985, 3
- Vera Rich, “Aleksandrov still not found,” Nature, Vol. 316, 8 August 1985, 479
- Tim Beardsley, “Soviet missing person,” Nature, Vol. 317, 19 September 1985, 191
- I. Andronov, "Where is Vladimir Aleksandrov?", Literaturnaya Gazeta, n.30, 23 July 1986
- A 1985 Time magazine account of Alexandrov's disappearance
- A. Levakov, "Supercomputer Technology and Projects in the U.S.", Jet Info online, No.12 (115)/2002 (In Russian)