Science

NOAA Boulder Research Finds Resurgence In Banned Ozone-Depleting Chemical

NOAA Boulder Research Finds Resurgence In Banned Ozone-Depleting Chemical

'The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol, ' Montzka and colleagues conclude.

"I do measurement for more than 30 years, and this is the most awesome thing I have seen, said Steven Monda (Stephen Montzka), a scientist from the National oceanic and atmospheric administration, who led this work".

The scientists said the deviation coincided with a rise in amounts of two other chemicals, chlorodifluoromethane and dichloromethane, suggesting they were all coming from the same source, though it was not clear exactly where they were being produced.

Emissions of CFC-11 have climbed 25 percent since 2012, despite the chemical being part of a group of ozone pollutants that were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

Another key question is whether there could be another explanation for a slower decline in CFC-11 post-2012, such as a change in the rate of chemical processes such as UV photolysis that break down CFC-11 in the stratosphere, or an increase in emissions from CFC "banks" - reservoirs that persist in old equipment and products that are still in use.

And while the treaty has typically been abided by over the years, as evident by the gradually reforming ozone, a team of researchers found evidence that somebody is producing large amounts of CFC-11 without telling anybody.

The chemical is also a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Despite the resistance to fighting climate change that we still have to deal with, some aspects of our planet are improving due to global efforts to reduce our impact - namely, the ozone layer is finally reforming.




The Montreal Protocol, signed by more than 200 countries and generally regarded as having a good record of compliance, is created to protect the Earth's ozone layer.

Measurements from Hawaii indicate the sources of the increasing emissions are likely in eastern Asia.

Keith Weller, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, which administers the Montreal Protocol, said the findings will have to be verified by the scientific panel to the Protocol, and then would be put before the treaty's member countries. "It is therefore, critical that we take stock of this science, identify the causes of these emissions and take necessary action".

"They're going to find the culprits".

But in the last few years, it looks like someone has started cheating. And thanks to the agreement, we've avoided a total ozone layer collapse by mid-century.

But in 2012 scientists noted that the rate of decline had slowed by 50 per cent, according to the new study. This, in turn, will delay the ozone layer's recovery, and in the meantime leave it more vulnerable to other threats.

However, it took many decades for scientists to discover that when CFCs break down in the atmosphere, they release chlorine atoms that are able to rapidly destroy ozone molecules.


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