There's been a mysterious rise in ozone-destroying emissions

There's been a mysterious rise in ozone-destroying emissions

The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global CFC production by 2010. Global production of CFC-11, which has been used as a refrigerant and in insulating foams, has been banned since 2010 under the Montreal Protocol.

Measurements at remote sites - including the government-run Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii - of the chemical, known as CFC-11, point to East Asia as the source or renewed production.

"The newer substances that are out there, the replacements for CFC-11, might be more hard or expensive for some countries to produce or get at".

"We're raising the flag to say, look, this is not what we hope happens for the ozone layer", said Dr. Montzka, a research chemist at the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The finding that the destruction of ozone was creating a large "hole" over the Antarctic led to the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

There is a small chance that there is a more innocent explanation for the rise in CFC-11 emissions, the scientists say.

However, if no action is taken on the new source of emissions, it could be highly significant. Then, surprisingly, the rate of decline hardly changed over the decade that followed. In 2012, however, the rate of decline suddenly reduced by about 50% - indicating that new source of production had started up.

It is possible that the increased emissions could be due to older buildings being demolished, but that doesn't seem to be the case. This conclusion was confirmed by other changes recorded in NOAA's measurements during the same period, such as a widening difference between CFC-11 concentrations in the northern and southern hemispheres - evidence that the new source was somewhere north of the equator.

A sharp and mysterious rise in emissions of a key ozone-destroying chemical has been detected by scientists, despite its production being banned around the world.

As a result of the controls, CFC11 concentrations have declined by 15% from peak levels measured in 1993.

But there a growing scientific doubts about the progress of healing in the ozone hole.

To put that in perspective, production of CFC-11, marketed under the trade name Freon, peaked at about 430,000 tons per year in the 1980s.

The findings of Montzka and his team of researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, represent the first time that emissions of one of the three most abundant, long-lived CFCs have increased for a sustained period since production controls took effect in the late 1980s.

"If these emissions continue unabated, they have the potential to slow down the recovery of the ozone layer", Weller said in a statement.

"If the increased emissions were to go away [soon], it's influence on the recovery date for the ozone layer would be minor", he said.

She said: "The study highlights that environmental regulations can not be taken for granted and must be safe-guarded, and that monitoring is required to ensure compliance".

But Mr. Doniger noted that the Montreal Protocol, which has been signed by almost 200 countries, has a strong track record of compliance, with countries often reporting their own violations.

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