Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 4081-4090, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
08 May 2012
Distributions, long term trends and emissions of four perfluorocarbons in remote parts of the atmosphere and firn air
J. C. Laube1, C. Hogan1, M. J. Newland1, F. S. Mani1,2, P. J. Fraser3, C. A. M. Brenninkmeijer4, P. Martinerie5, D. E. Oram6, T. Röckmann7, J. Schwander8, E. Witrant9, G. P. Mills1, C. E. Reeves1, and W. T. Sturges1 1School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
2School of Applied Sciences, Fiji National University, Suva, Fiji
3Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Aspendale, Victoria 3195, Australia
4Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Air Chemistry Division, Mainz, Germany
5UJF – Grenoble 1/CNRS, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE) UMR5183, Grenoble, 38041, France
6National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
7Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
8Physics Institute, University of Berne, Bern, Switzerland
9UJF – Grenoble1/CNRS, Grenoble Image Parole Signal Automatique (GIPSA-lab), UMR5216, B.P. 46, 38402 St. Martin d'Hères, France
Abstract. We report the first data set of atmospheric abundances for the following four perfluoroalkanes: n-decafluorobutane (n-C4F10), n-dodecafluoropentane (n-C5F12), n-tetradecafluorohexane (n-C6F14) and n-hexadecafluoroheptane (n-C7F16). All four compounds could be detected and quantified in air samples from remote locations in the Southern Hemisphere (at Cape Grim, Tasmania, archived samples dating back to 1978) and the upper troposphere (a passenger aircraft flying from Germany to South Africa). Further observations originate from air samples extracted from deep firn in Greenland and allow trends of atmospheric abundances in the earlier 20th century to be inferred. All four compounds were not present in the atmosphere prior to the 1960s. n-C4F10 and n-C5F12 were also measured in samples collected in the stratosphere with the data indicating that they have no significant sinks in this region. Emissions were inferred from these observations and found to be comparable with emissions from the EDGAR database for n-C6F14. However, emissions of n-C4F10, n-C5F12 and n-C7F16 were found to differ by up to five orders of magnitude between our approach and the database. Although the abundances of the four perfluorocarbons reported here are currently small (less than 0.3 parts per trillion) they have strong Global Warming Potentials several thousand times higher than carbon dioxide (on a 100-yr time horizon) and continue to increase in the atmosphere. We estimate that the sum of their cumulative emissions reached 325 million metric tonnes CO2 equivalent at the end of 2009.

Citation: Laube, J. C., Hogan, C., Newland, M. J., Mani, F. S., Fraser, P. J., Brenninkmeijer, C. A. M., Martinerie, P., Oram, D. E., Röckmann, T., Schwander, J., Witrant, E., Mills, G. P., Reeves, C. E., and Sturges, W. T.: Distributions, long term trends and emissions of four perfluorocarbons in remote parts of the atmosphere and firn air, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 4081-4090, doi:10.5194/acp-12-4081-2012, 2012.
Publications Copernicus