Banned Ozone-Harming Gas Creeps Back, Suggesting a Mystery Source
17 May, 2018, 02:07 | Author: Darnell Taylor
A USA observatory in Hawaii found CFC-11 mixed in with other gases that were characteristic of a source coming from somewhere in eastern Asia, but scientists could not narrow the area down any further.
A simple model analysis of our findings suggests an increase in CFC-11 emissions ... despite reported production being close to zero4 since 2006 ...
"The authors pinpoint a new source of CFC-11 to East Asia, breaking Montreal Protocol rules".
Nature removes 2 percent of the CFC11 out of the air each year, so concentrations of the chemical in the atmosphere are still falling, but at a slower rate because of the new emissions, Montzka said.
Paul Young, at Lancaster University, UK, said: "The Montreal Protocol has been rightly hailed as our most successful global environmental treaty, so the suggestion that there are possibly continued, unreported emissions of CFCs is certainly troubling and needs further investigation". This means that the total concentration of ozone-depleting chemicals, overall, is still decreasing in the atmosphere.
But "continued increase in global CFC-11 emissions will put that progress at risk". Even more unexpected was that the rate of decline slowed by 50 percent after 2012.
It is possible that the increased emissions could be due to older buildings being demolished, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Measurements from Hawaii indicate the sources of the increasing emissions are likely in eastern Asia.
While the new analysis can't definitively explain why emissions of CFC11 are increasing, but Montzka suspects covert production.
The Montreal Protocol has been effective in reducing ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere because all countries in the world agreed to legally binding controls on the production of most human-produced gases known to destroy ozone. "This suggests unreported new production".
"This is the first time that emissions of one of the three most abundant, long-lived CFCs have increased for a sustained period since production controls took effect in the late 1980s", they note.
A study earlier this year found that the ozone layer is unexpectedly declining in the lower stratosphere - 10 to 24 kilometers above sea level - over the planet's populated tropical and mid-latitude regions.
David Fahey, director of NOAA " s Chemical Science Division and co-chair of the United Nations Environment Programme's Ozone Secretariat 's Science Advisory Panel, said ongoing monitoring of the atmosphere will be key to ensuring that the goal of restoring the ozone layer is achieved. "It is therefore imperative that this finding be discussed at the next Ministerial meeting of Governments given recovery of the ozone layer is dependent on all countries complying with the Montreal Protocol (and its adjustments and amendments) with emissions globally dropping to zero".
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