Sunday, 16 June, 2019

Banned Ozone-Destroying Gases Are Coming From China, Scientists Say

A new field study this May and June seeks to advance NASA’s ability to monitor air quality from space. This 2007 NASA satellite image shows a swath of air pollution sweeping east across the Korean peninsula to Japan Spike in banned ozone-eating CFC gases linked to China in new research
Steven Clarke | 23 May, 2019, 16:11

Since 2013 annual emissions from northeastern China of a banned chemical called CFC-11 have increased by about 7000 tonnes, researchers reported overnight in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

A still more detailed explanation is published today in the journal Nature by an worldwide research team led by Matt Rigby of the University of Bristol, UK, and Sunyoung Park of Kyungpook National University, South Korea, together with colleagues from Japan, the United States, Australia and Switzerland.

Because scientists have noticed the chemical increase in the atmosphere early, "that gives us a really good chance to make sure they don't do too much damage", he said.

Last year, scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbons, more commonly known as CFCs, were increasing despite an global ban on their use, according to CNN.

Lead author Matt Rigby, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Bristol, said: "CFCs are the main culprit in depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun's ultra-violet radiation".

Following the ban's entry into force, global concentrations of CFC-11 declined steadily until about 2012.

The study "represents an important and particularly policy-relevant milestone in atmospheric scientists' ability to tell which regions are emitting ozone-depleting substances, greenhouse gases, or other chemicals, and in what quantities", study co-author Ray Weiss said.

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While our new study can not determine which industry or industries are responsible, it does provide strong evidence that substantial new emissions of CFC-11 have occurred from China.

Evidence pointed to East Asia, but could not nail down the exact origin.

Reports a year ago from the Environmental Investigation Agency fingered Chinese foam factories in the coastal province of Shandong and the inland province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.

China continues to emit an increasing amount of ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), despite a global initiative to phase out CFCs under the Montreal Protocol, aggravating the climate crisis, scientists have found. The new study uses data collected every two hours by the AGAGE global monitoring network, including data from Gosan, South Korea, and from an AGAGE-affiliated station at Hateruma, Japan.

But pouring more CFC-11 into the air could also prevent ozone from returning to normal levels, scientists warn. The latest findings cast shadow on the global climate action as the fight to protect the planet from more adverse effects of climate change becomes crucial.

CFCs are also potent greenhouse gasses, with one tonne of CFC-11 equivalent to about 5,000 tonnes of CO2. When the ozone layer is weakened, more UV rays can get through and affect humans, making them prone to skin cancer, cataracts and other diseases.

Today, the "hole in the ozone" over the South Pole is showing clear signs of recovery. "If emissions do not decline, it will delay the recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, possibly for decades", he added.

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