Sci-tech

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

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

Concerning that fact, the banned ozone-depleting chemical from an unknown source may slow down the restoration of the ozone layer.

An ozone-eating chemical that has been banned for years is mysteriously on the rise again in the atmosphere, scientists say.

However, according to Durwood Zaelke, an expert on the Montreal Protocol, the massive quantities of CFC-11 indicates that someone is acting in defiance of the ban. However, in 1987, an global team of scientists proved that the emissions of such chemicals were actually harming the environment, particularly the ozone layer.

The amount of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) in the atmosphere has been sinking more slowly since 2012 than should be expected, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Colorado wrote. "We don't know why they might be doing that and if it is being made for some specific objective, or inadvertently as a side product of some other chemical process", said Stephen Montzka of the NOAA, lead author of the study. Today, the "hole in the ozone" over the South Pole is showing clear signs of recovery.

The scientists had to do detective work to find out the culprit behind the increase in emissions. Recognised as an ozone depleter under the Montreal Protocol, R11 was banned along with other common CFC refrigerants R12 and R502. The researchers have said they would need more measurements to figure the exact location of the source and take necessary action.

The new analysis of atmospheric measurements show that from 2014 to 2016, emissions of CFC11 increased by 25% above the average measured from 2002 to 2012. "In the end, we concluded that it's most likely that someone may be producing the CFC11 that's escaping to the atmosphere", he said.

Emissions of one of the chemicals most responsible for the Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, despite an global treaty that required an end to its production in 2010, a new study by researchers at NOAA and their colleagues shows. It is only destroyed in the stratosphere, some 9 to 18 miles above the planet's surface, where the resulting chlorine molecules engage in a string of ozone-destroying chemical reactions. Since 2006, countries have reported close to zero production of CFC11.

In 2013, plumes of air containing elevated levels of CFC-11 were detected at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii.

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. Otherwise, if the emissions continue to increase, the ozone layer's recovery is expected to be delayed by decades. "Nevertheless, scientists and policy makes will want to understand the cause of these unexpected CFC-11 emissions".

"Knowing how much time and effort and resources have gone into healing the ozone layer, and to see this is a shocker, frankly", said Montzka.



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