Banned ozone-destroying gas may still be in production

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David Doniger, director of the climate and clean energy program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group in Washington, said the new emissions were "bad for the ozone layer and bad for climate change".

Because CFC-11 still accounts for one-quarter of all chlorine present in today's stratosphere, expectations for the ozone hole to heal by mid-century depend on an accelerating decline of CFC-11 in the atmosphere as its emissions diminish- which should happen with no new CFC-11 production.

Last fall, it was reported that the hole in the Earth's ozone layer had shrunk to its smallest size since 1988, which was great news.

"Emissions today are about the same as it was almost 20 years ago", he said.

An ozone depleting CFC refrigerant, thought to be virtually extinct following Montreal Protocol phase outs, has mysteriously reappeared in increasing amounts in the atmosphere. If not remedied soon, however, substantial delays in ozone layer recovery could be expected, Montzka said.

"We're raising a flag to the global community to say, 'This is what's going on, and it is taking us away from timely recovery from ozone depletion, '" said NOAA scientist Stephen Montzka, lead author of the paper, which has co-authors from CIRES, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

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Overall, it is important to underscore that the ozone layer is slowly recovering and ozone-depleting substances are still declining.

Nations in the Montreal Protocol have reported close to zero CFC-11 emissions since 2006.

Unreported production of CFC-11 outside of certain specific carve-out purposes in the treaty would be a "violation of global law", Weller confirmed, though he said that the Protocol is "non-punitive" and the remedy would probably involve a negotiation with the offending party, or country. When the researchers examined measurements from atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii, they found that other industrial emissions are also increasing. Researchers suspect the spike in the ozone damaging chemical is coming from somewhere in eastern Asia.

"We are making the measurements from very far away from these regions and I think more specificity is going to come once the people.in that region.look carefully at their measurements and publish their results", he added.

But they concluded these sources could not explain the increase, which they calculated at about 13 billion grams per year in recent years. The chemical stays in the air for about 50 years.

The study, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, identified two possible culprits: industrial chemicals not covered by the Montreal Protocol called "very short-lived substances" (VSLSs), or climate change, which would be far more hard to resolve. "There's a reasonable chance we'll figure out what's happening here", he said. If you want more like this, head over to Science As Fact.

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