Count of new chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere rises from four to seven

Jun 03, 2014
Dr. Johannes Laube from the University of East Anglia has found two new chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and one new hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) in the atmosphere. The research comes after another four man-made gases were discovered by the same team in March. Credit: David Powell, UEA

Scientists at the University of East Anglia have found two new chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and one new hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) in the atmosphere.

The research, published today in the journal Atmosphere, comes after another four man-made were discovered by the same team in March.

Scientists made the discovery by comparing today's air samples with air collected between 1978 and 2012 in unpolluted Tasmania, and samples taken during aircraft flights.

Measurements show that all but one of the new gases have been released into the atmosphere in recent years.

Dr Johannes Laube, from UEA's school of Environmental Sciences, said: "Two of the gases that we found earlier in the year were particularly worrying because they were still accumulating significantly up until 2012. Emission increases of this scale have not been seen for any other CFCs since controls were introduced during the 1990s, but they are nowhere near peak CFC emissions of the 1980s.

"We have now identified another two CFCs and one HCFC, although these have much lower concentrations than the previous ones. It is therefore unlikely that they will pose a threat to the ozone layer. They do however strengthen our argument that there are many more gases out there and the sum of them may well have an impact."

Corinna Kloss, who undertook the research while at UEA, now at the Jülich Research Centre in Germany, said: "All seven gases were only around in the in very small amounts before the 1980s, with four not present at all before the 1960s, which suggests they are man-made. Where these new gases are coming from should be investigated. Possible sources include industrial solvents, feedstock chemicals and refrigerants."

CFCs are the main cause of the hole in the over Antarctica. Laws to reduce and phase out CFCs came into force in 1989, followed by a total ban in 2010. This has resulted in successfully reducing the production of many of these compounds on a global scale.

Explore further: Study reveals four new man-made gases in the atmosphere

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study shows bacteria combat dangerous gas leaks

Apr 28, 2014

Bacteria could mop up naturally-occurring and man-made leaks of natural gases before they are released into the atmosphere and cause global warming - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

19 hours ago

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

21 hours ago

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.