Why we need to worry about ozone again

Antarctic Ozone Hole

The data shows that despite the majority of countries reporting their halt of the chemical's production by 2006, CFC-11 emissions have actually increased year-over-year since 2012.

On the other hand, the average since 1991 has been 26 million square kilometers.

It's a distressing result for what's widely seen as a global environmental success story, in which nations - alarmed by a growing "ozone hole" - collectively took action to phase out chlorofluorocarbons.

By measuring the concentrations of CFC-11 reaching the atmosphere, the researchers have been able to calculate how much is being emitted down on the surface.

Although the source of the rise has not yet been determined, the study did state that "the increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production" which would suggest "unreported new production". The hole is expected to recover to its 1980 levels by 2070. The substance is also a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. Erin is also an active beekeeper.

CFC-11 was once commonly found in refrigerants, aerosol sprays and Styrofoam.

"This evidence strongly suggests increased CFC-11 emissions from eastern Asia after 2012". Signatories have taken it upon themselves to monitor CFC production and report it back to the United Nation group which oversees the protocol's implementation.

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"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 of the ozone layer, '" NOAA scientist Stephen Montzka and the study's lead author said in the NOAA statement.

CFCs last for about 50 years, and some of it still gets into the atmosphere thanks to old appliances and building insulation materials made before the '90s. The researchers warn that continued production of the gas could delay recovery of the ozone layer.

"If these emissions continue unabated, they have the potential to slow down the recovery of the ozone layer, it is therefore, critical that we take stock of this science, identify the causes of these emissions and take necessary action", said the statement. It is the first time levels of one of the three most abundant, long-lived CFCs has increased for a sustained period since the late 1980s.

"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".

This led researchers to conclude that the increase is due to an increase in CFC-11 use, whether actual production or as a byproduct, somewhere in East Asia.

Although Montzka and his colleagues could not pinpoint the exact location of the new emissions, some of their observations and models offer clues as to where they might be coming from.

"This is atmospheric detective work at its finest", said Piers Forester, head of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds.

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