There's been a mysterious rise in ozone-destroying emissions

Ozone-Depleting Chemical Is On The Rise Again But From An Unknown Source

Ozone-Depleting Chemical Is On The Rise Again But From An Unknown Source

"We're raising a flag to the global community to say, 'This is what's going on, and it is taking us away from timely recovery of the ozone layer, '" NOAA scientist Stephen Montzka, the study's lead author, said in a statement.

"The reduction in the atmospheric concentration of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) has made the second-largest contribution to the decline in the total atmospheric concentration of ozone-depleting chlorine since the 1990s", the new research says. But they were banned under the Montreal Protocol of 1987, after it was discovered they contributed to the creation of a giant hole in the ozone layer which forms over Antarctica each September.

"Emissions today are about the same as it was almost 20 years ago", he said.

The researchers show that CFC-11 levels, measured at a number of remote monitoring sites around the world, decreased in line with expectations between 2002 and 2011.

If the source of these new emissions can be identified and controlled soon, the damage to the ozone layer should be minor, Montzka said.

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"We're raising a flag to the global community to say, 'This is what's going on, and it is taking us away from timely recovery from ozone depletion, '" said NOAA scientist Stephen Montzka, lead author of the paper, which has co-authors from CIRES, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

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. This conclusion was confirmed by other changes recorded in NOAA's measurements during the same period, such as a widening difference between CFC-11 concentrations in the northern and southern hemispheres - evidence that the new source was somewhere north of the equator.

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects animal and plant life on Earth from powerful UV rays.

To put that in perspective, production of CFC-11, marketed under the trade name Freon, peaked at about 430,000 tons per year in the 1980s.

They were also used as propellants in aerosol sprays and in solvents.

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So where exactly are these increased emissions coming from? It is thought that about 13,000 tonnes a year has been released since 2013.

The study, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, identified two possible culprits: industrial chemicals not covered by the Montreal Protocol called "very short-lived substances" (VSLSs), or climate change, which would be far more hard to resolve.

"The newer substances that are out there, the replacements for CFC-11, might be more hard or expensive for some countries to produce or get at". Recognised as an ozone depleter under the Montreal Protocol, R11 was banned along with other common CFC refrigerants R12 and R502.

This article was originally published by Science As Fact.

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