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Volume 18, issue 6
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 4153-4169, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-4153-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 4153-4169, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-4153-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Mar 2018

Research article | 26 Mar 2018

Recent increases in the atmospheric growth rate and emissions of HFC-23 (CHF3) and the link to HCFC-22 (CHClF2) production

Peter G. Simmonds1, Matthew Rigby1, Archie McCulloch1, Martin K. Vollmer2, Stephan Henne2, Jens Mühle3, Simon O'Doherty1, Alistair J. Manning4, Paul B. Krummel5, Paul J. Fraser5, Dickon Young1, Ray F. Weiss3, Peter K. Salameh3, Christina M. Harth3, Stefan Reimann2, Cathy M. Trudinger5, L. Paul Steele5, Ray H. J. Wang6, Diane J. Ivy7, Ronald G. Prinn7, Blagoj Mitrevski5, and David M. Etheridge5 Peter G. Simmonds et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 2Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Laboratory for Air Pollution and Environmental Technology (Empa), Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 3Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  • 4Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
  • 5Climate Science Centre, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Oceans and Atmosphere, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
  • 6School of Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • 7Center for Global Change Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Abstract. High frequency measurements of trifluoromethane (HFC-23, CHF3), a potent hydrofluorocarbon greenhouse gas, largely emitted to the atmosphere as a by-product of the production of the hydrochlorofluorocarbon HCFC-22 (CHClF2), at five core stations of the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) network, combined with measurements on firn air, old Northern Hemisphere air samples and Cape Grim Air Archive (CGAA) air samples, are used to explore the current and historic changes in the atmospheric abundance of HFC-23. These measurements are used in combination with the AGAGE 2-D atmospheric 12-box model and a Bayesian inversion methodology to determine model atmospheric mole fractions and the history of global HFC-23 emissions. The global modelled annual mole fraction of HFC-23 in the background atmosphere was 28.9±0.6pmolmol−1 at the end of 2016, representing a 28% increase from 22.6±0.4pmolmol−1 in 2009. Over the same time frame, the modelled mole fraction of HCFC-22 increased by 19% from 199±2 to 237±2pmolmol−1. However, unlike HFC-23, the annual average HCFC-22 growth rate slowed from 2009 to 2016 at an annual average rate of −0.5pmolmol−1yr−2. This slowing atmospheric growth is consistent with HCFC-22 moving from dispersive (high fractional emissions) to feedstock (low fractional emissions) uses, with HFC-23 emissions remaining as a consequence of incomplete mitigation from all HCFC-22 production.

Our results demonstrate that, following a minimum in HFC-23 global emissions in 2009 of 9.6±0.6, emissions increased to a maximum in 2014 of 14.5±0.6Ggyr−1 and then declined to 12.7±0.6Ggyr−1 (157MtCO2eq.yr−1) in 2016. The 2009 emissions minimum is consistent with estimates based on national reports and is likely a response to the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to mitigate HFC-23 emissions by incineration in developing (non-Annex 1) countries under the Kyoto Protocol. Our derived cumulative emissions of HFC-23 during 2010–2016 were 89±2Gg (1.1±0.2GtCO2eq.), which led to an increase in radiative forcing of 1.0±0.1mWm−2 over the same period. Although the CDM had reduced global HFC-23 emissions, it cannot now offset the higher emissions from increasing HCFC-22 production in non-Annex 1 countries, as the CDM was closed to new entrants in 2009. We also find that the cumulative European HFC-23 emissions from 2010 to 2016 were  ∼ 1.3Gg, corresponding to just 1.5% of cumulative global HFC-23 emissions over this same period. The majority of the increase in global HFC-23 emissions since 2010 is attributed to a delay in the adoption of mitigation technologies, predominantly in China and East Asia. However, a reduction in emissions is anticipated, when the Kigali 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol, requiring HCFC and HFC production facilities to introduce destruction of HFC-23, is fully implemented.

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Recent measurements of the potent greenhouse gas HFC-23, a by-product of HCFC-22 production, show a 28 % increase in the atmospheric mole fraction from 2009 to 2016. A minimum in the atmospheric abundance of HFC-23 in 2009 was attributed to abatement of HFC-23 emissions by incineration under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Our results indicate that the recent increase in HFC-23 emissions is driven by failure of mitigation under the CDM to keep pace with increased HCFC-22 production.
Recent measurements of the potent greenhouse gas HFC-23, a by-product of HCFC-22 production,...
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