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06. June 2019

Increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern China based on atmospheric observations

According to an article by M. Rigby, S. Park, et al., published in the international journal of science Nature 569, p. 546 – 550 (2019), the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer relies on the continued decline in the atmospheric concentrations of ozone-depleting gases such as chlorofluorocarbons. The atmospheric concentration of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), the second-most abundant chlorofluorocarbon, has declined substantially since the mid-1990s.

A recently reported slowdown in the decline of the atmospheric concentration of CFC-11 after 2012, however, suggests that global emissions have increased. A concurrent increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern Asia contributes to the global emission increase, but the location and magnitude of this regional source are unknown. Here, using high-frequency atmospheric observations from Gosan, South Korea, and Hateruma, Japan, together with global monitoring data and atmospheric chemical transport model simulations, regional CFC-11 emissions from eastern Asia were investigated.

It was shown that emissions from eastern mainland China were 7.0 ± 3.0 (±1 standard deviation) gigagrams per year higher in 2014 – 2017 than in 2008 – 2012, and that the increase in emissions arises primarily around the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Hebei. According to the article, this increase accounts for a substantial fraction (at least 40 – 60 %) of the global rise in CFC-11 emissions.

No evidence was found for a significant increase in CFC-11 emissions from any other eastern Asian countries or other regions of the world where there are available data for the detection of regional emissions. The attribution of any remaining fraction of the global CFC-11 emission rise to other regions is limited by the sparsity of long-term measurements of sufficient frequency near potentially emissive regions. Several considerations suggest that the increase in CFC-11 emissions from eastern mainland China is likely to be the result of new production and use, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global chlorofluorocarbon production by 2010.

The full article can be found at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1193-4


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