Mysterious Source Of Ozone-Destroying Chemicals Traced To East China

Scientists have traced East China as the mysterious source of rogue carbon emissions that destroy the ozone layer. The findings of the study will help act as a map that could check out which provinces in China are causing rogue emissions.  ( NASA )

Saving the planet from the climate crisis means curbing emissions of greenhouse gases that continue to destroy the Earth's ozone layer and intensify global warming.

For decades now, scientists from all over the world have been closely monitoring the state of the ozone layer. While some reports show that the ozone layer is healing from devastating depletion, a new study revealed that rogue carbon emissions have been on the rise.

Where Is The Source Of Rogue Chemicals That Destroy The Ozone Layer?

In an effort to fight climate change, the 1987 Montreal Protocol banned the use of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons worldwide because of its heat-trapping effects on the ozone layer.

Chlorofluorocarbons, which are often contained in aerosol sprays, foams, air-conditioners, and refrigerators, destroy the ozone layer by drifting upward to the stratosphere. There, CFCs are broken up by ultraviolet rays and release chlorine atoms that destroy ozone molecules.

In the new study, which has been issued in the journal Nature, a team of scientists have pinpointed the source of the rogue chemicals that destroy the ozone layer. Researchers found that east China has caused the recent rise in CFC-11 emissions by 60 percent.

To figure this out, the research team collected data from air monitoring stations in Japan and Korea. They found that the CFC-11 emissions in China went from an average of 6.4 gigagrams per year from 2008 to 2012 to 13.4 gigagrams per year from 2014 to 2017.

Researchers explained such CFC-11 emissions likely go unreported because although CFC-11 is illegal, it is one of the cheapest ways to insulate refrigerators and buildings.

Although there is no specific location pinpointed in the study, researchers explained that the provinces Shandong and Hebei in East China are big industrial producers that are heavily involved in the country's manufacturing. The productions of harmful chemicals are not directly found in these provinces, but they are surely being emitted in large quantities nearby.

"When the wind is blowing in a straight line from that source to the measuring station, you see a spike," said atmospheric scientist Matt Rigby, lead author of the study from University of Bristol.

Is Earth's Ozone Layer Recovering?

In November 2018, a report by the United Nations revealed that the ozone layer has been recovering from depletion.

The depleted region of the ozone layer that protects the northern hemisphere and the mid-latitudes is expected to completely recover by 2030, researchers said. Meanwhile, the depleted region that protects the southern hemisphere and the Polar Regions will recover by 2050 and 2060, respectively.

The Implications Of The Study

China has promised that it will curb carbon emissions as part of the Montreal Protocol, and the details of the study can provide a clearer map for where the country can check to decrease excess emissions.

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, explained that the report narrows down the sources and locations of CFC-11 emissions and this fact alone should put pressure on China to curtail rogue emissions.

One caveat of the study is that although scientists have pinpointed the source of the rogue emissions, it is still unclear whether emissions are widespread among the regions or concentrated on just a few sources.

"We hope to work with Chinese colleagues in the future to see if similar signals are visible in their data," added Rigby.

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