Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

NOAA Finds Rising Emissions of Ozone-Destroying Chemical Banned by Montreal Protocol

Emissions of one of the chemicals most responsible for the Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, despite an international treaty that required an end to its production in 2010, a new NOAA study shows.

Trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, is the second-most abundant ozone-depleting gas in the atmosphere and a member of the family of chemicals most responsible for the giant hole in the ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September. Once widely used as a foaming agent, production of CFC-11 was phased out by the Montreal Protocol in 2010.

The new study, published today in Nature, documents an unexpected increase in emissions of this gas, likely from new, unreported production. 

“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 UK, and the Netherlands. “Further work is needed to figure out exactly why emissions of CFC-11 are increasing and if something can be done about it soon.”

CIRES scientists Geoff Dutton, Pengfei Yu, Eric Ray, Debra Mondeel, Carolina Siso, David Nance, Lei Hu, Freed Moore, and Ben Miller, who work in the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratories, are co-authors on this study.

This story was adapted from NOAA communications. Read the full story here.


CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.