It remains to be seen how the quantity of energy supplied by the asteroids
compares with solar insolation over the same time period (about 150 days or
perhaps a year). I'm still researching this.
> The input energy is kinetic and very little is absorbed by the
> atmosphere inbound. On striking the earth, the kinetic is converted
> into heat and primarily the earth or water is heated. However, energy
> may propagate out in seismic or ocean waves and this can have quite a
> devastating effect on the fragile animal or vegetation life and on
> humans. Note that some earthquakes have killed based on earth motion
> being severe enough to though a man up into the air.
The kinetic energy of the asteroid is NOT primarily converted to heat.
Upon striking the ground (including water) the asteroid will explode like
an atomic bomb explosion but without the atomic radiation fallout.
When the bomb fell on Hiroshima, it was not the light generated that
destroyed the city. It was not the heat generated that destroyed the city.
It was the tremendous shock wave which destroyed the city.
To be sure, there was a second or two of blinding light. There was indeed
searing heat for a short time. But the majority of the energy created by
the explosion was used in the shock wave. There were fires in the ruins
afterwards, but these were not the result of huge amounts of heat from the
When the Tunguska asteroid exploded, searing heat instantly set the forest
ablaze for thousands of square miles around. However, seconds later, the
shock wave snuffed out the fires and smashed the trees flat, stripped of
their limbs. This is attested to by the fact that the millions downed logs
were burned and charred only on the side that faced the center of the
Thus we can conclude that the major part of the energy of the asteroids
will be disipated by shock waves in the air, by evaporation and
mega-tsunami in water, and by rocks and dust thrown into the atmosphere
along with P and S waves in the ground. There will be some primary heat
generated by the explosion. Secondary heat will also be generated by
following fires, volcanism and plate tectonics.
I'm still researching the exact breakdown of atomic bomb explosion energy
distribution. If you know of any sources please let me know.