China identified as source of unexpected rise in CFC emissions | Research

South Korea's Gosan GAW Regional Station on the southwestern tip of Jeju Island

Under this protocol, a deal was accepted to phase out the chemical that was used by the refrigerators and to make Styrofoam and other products to be phased out by 2010.

"In recent decades, we've primarily seen declining CFC emissions because of the Montreal Protocol".

China, the USA, and the European Union are the top three emitters of greenhouse gases and contribute to more than half of the total global emissions.

However, it took many decades for scientists to discover that when CFCs break down in the atmosphere, they release chlorine atoms that are able to rapidly destroy the ozone layer which protects us from ultraviolet light.

CFCs, which were invented in 1928 and commercially used as refrigerants and in aerosol cans, are highly damaging to the earth's ozone layer over Antarctica.

Where are the rest of the emissions coming from?

Part of the source had previously been narrowed down to somewhere in eastern Asia, but no additional details had been available. "This was because we were interested in collecting air samples that were representative of the background atmosphere, so that we could monitor global changes in concentration and determine their atmospheric lifetimes". Ultimately, if China successfully eliminates the new emissions sources, then the long-term negative impact on the ozone layer and climate could be modest, and a megacity-sized amount of CO₂-equivalent emissions would be avoided.

Emissions of the gas came primarily from the Chinese northeastern provinces of Shandong and Hebei, according to the study.

"Our measurements showed "spikes" in pollution when air arrived from industrialised areas" in China, said another lead author, Sunyoung Park from Kyungpook National University.

China is to blame for much of an increase in illegal ozone-depleting substances (ODS), a study has warned.

Similar signals had also been noticed at the NIES station on the Japanese island of Hateruma, close to Taiwan.

Researchers say that they have pinpointed the major sources of a mysterious recent rise in a risky, ozone-destroying chemical. Luke Western is a Research Associate in Atmospheric Science at the University of Bristol.

While it's not known exactly why production and use of CFC-11 apparently restarted in China after the 2010 ban, these reports noted that it may be that some foam producers were not willing to transition to using second generation substitutes (HFCs and other gases, which are not harmful to the ozone layer) as the supply of the first generation substitutes (HCFCs) was becoming restricted for the first time in 2013.

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.

Now that the emissions have been discovered, it still remains to be found which industries are to be held accountable for them, as per Matt Rigby, a lead author of the study, recounts. It said in March that it had shut down two manufacturing spots that produced CFC-11 as part of the crackdown.

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