Emissions on the rise: Alarming quantities of Ozone depleting chemicals detected

Aerosol

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 Guardian reports that if these emissions are left unchecked, it could tack an extra decade onto restoration of the all-important ozone layer, which protects the earth from the sun's damaging UV radiation. Signatories have taken it upon themselves to monitor CFC production and report it back to the United Nation group which oversees the protocol's implementation.

The issue involves a gas called CFC-11, a chlorofluorocarbon that contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Measurements at remote sites - including the USA government-run Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii - of the chemical, known as CFC-11, point to East Asia as the source or renewed production. "Today, emissions are about the same as 20 years ago, we don't know why", said researcher Stephen Montzka (Stephen Montzka), a chemist at the National oceanic and atmospheric administration. As all countries in the world agreed to stall production of ozone damaging gases, the remaining stores were expected to be released into the atmosphere and subsequently diminish, and the ozone hole was expected to recover.

Measurements from Hawaii indicate the sources of the increasing emissions are likely in eastern Asia. Recognised as an ozone depleter under the Montreal Protocol, R11 was banned along with other common CFC refrigerants R12 and R502. '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.

Banned Ozone-Harming Gas Creeps Back, Suggesting a Mystery Source

However, results from the new analysis of NOAA atmospheric measurements show that from 2014 to 2016, emissions of CFC-11 increased by more than 14,000 tons per year to about 65,000 tons per year, or 25% above average emissions during 2002 to 2012.

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. This produces chlorine, which destroys ozone molecules. Production levels have been reported to be at zero by countries that are responsible to enforce the global ban, notes the report. The toxic CFC-11 is completely banned across the globe. "It is critical that we take stock of this science, identify the causes of these emissions and take necessary action", he said.

"They're going to find the culprits". But from 2012 onwards the decline in CFC-11 has been 50% slower than expected. "A delay in ozone recovery [.] is anticipated, with an overall importance depending on the trajectory of CFC-11 emissions and concentrations in the future".

But there a growing scientific doubts about the progress of healing in the ozone hole.

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