A greenhouse gas that can cause 12,000 times more warming per tonne than carbon dioxide is rising unexpectedly in the atmosphere, despite reports by its major producers, China and India, that they’ve mostly eliminated emissions of the gas.
Atmospheric gas measurements at five stations around the world show that emissions of HFC-23 or trifluoromethane reached a record high in 2018 of 15,900 tonnes, reports a study led by Kieran Stanley, a visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol.
That’s a lot higher than the 2,400 tonnes of emissions of that gas reported by China and India to the United Nations Environment Program in 2017, notes the study, published this week in Nature Communications.
HFC-23 is a byproduct in the production of the refrigerant HCFC-22, which is a greenhouse gas and depletes the ozone layer.
Based on China’s and India’s reports, scientists had expected to see HFC-23 levels drop 90 per cent between 2015 and 2017 in measurements by the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment.
Instead, the difference between reported and measured emissions during that period is equivalent to all of Spain’s carbon emissions for one year, the researchers estimate.
“Our study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported,” said Stanley in a news release from the University of Bristol.
“Alternatively, or additionally, there may be substantial unreported production of HCFC-22 at unknown locations, resulting in unaccounted-for HFC-23 byproduct being vented to the atmosphere,” the study suggests.
HFC-23 produced during the manufacture of HCFC-22 was traditionally released into the atmosphere. Under international agreements to protect the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol and its 2016 Kigali Amendment, HFC-23 is supposed to be destroyed. However, the phaseout is slower for developing countries such as China and India and isn’t officially yet in effect.
Nevertheless, both countries were reporting reductions, and India passed a regulation in 2016 requiring incineration of HFC-23. The authors of the new study say more regional measurements are needed to verify whether that’s actually happening.
Australian Yarrabubba meteor crater is 2.229 billion years old – SlashGear
Scientists say that the Earth has about 190 major meteor craters on its surface. Despite having so many impact craters, scientists only know the age of a few of them. A team of scientists recently studied the Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia and were able to determine that the crater was 2.229 billion years old.
That makes it the oldest crater currently known. It took the crown of the oldest crater from the Vredefort Dome crater in South Africa with scientists saying the Australian crater is 200 million years older. Scientists are studying crater and trying to date them in an attempt to see what sort of role they played in the environmental development of the planet.
Scientists are trying to determine how a meteor impact might relate to the formation of the continents. Science also wants to know when meteor impacts declined to the point where life could emerge. The Australian crater the team studied is in a very remote part of Western Australia and is believed to have been 70km across. It’s so old that it doesn’t look much like an impact crater.
It’s major features have been weathered away by wind, rain, and other forces leaving only overgrown rocky outcrops according to the team. The weathered remains prevented scientists from dating it with the most common form of crater dating using what’s called a “melt sheet.”
The team instead searched for rocks that could be used to date the events. The specific type of rock has the minerals zircon and monazite inside that contain uranium and lead. The ratio of those can be used to determine the age of the rock. Crystals melted by the impact were used to date the crater.
Study reveals unexpected rise in potent greenhouse gas – Space Daily
Scientists had expected the levels of HFC-23, a type of hydrofluorocarbon and a potent greenhouse gas, to drop in the latest global survey of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, atmospheric concentrations of HFC-23 are rising.
HFC-23 is the byproduct of the production of HCFC-22, another hydrofluorocarbon that is commonly used in cooling systems in developing economies. India and China are two of the largest emitters of HFC-23, but in 2015, the two nations promised to rapidly reduce their HFC-23 emissions.
After making the pledge, officials in China and India reported tremendous progress with their HFC-23 abatement program, with the expectation that HFC-23 emissions would drop to nearly zero by 2017.
A new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, suggests the opposite has happened.
Authors of the new study assumed China and India’s reported progress was real, and would lead to reduced concentration of HFC-23 in the atmosphere.
“We had no particular reason to distrust the reports. We were motivated to write the paper because the reported reductions were so dramatic,” study co-author Matthew Rigby, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Bristol in Britain, told UPI in an email. “Based on the reported values, we were expecting to see global atmospheric concentrations stabilize, following decades of growth. So it was a surprise to see them continue to grow, and in fact, grow at a faster rate than ever before.”
Rigby is a member of the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment, UGAGE, which measure greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at test sites around the globe.
The latest findings revealed a significant global rise in HFC-23 in 2017, but the data doesn’t pinpoint the exact source of the increase. Rigby and his colleagues acknowledged that their study doesn’t prove China and India failed to execute their HFC-23 abatement programs.
“From our analysis, we cannot definitively say that China and India have not achieved their reported emission reductions,” lead study author Kieran Stanley, a post-doctoral researcher at the Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany, told UPI. “However, seeing as China and India account for 75 percent of the total global HCFC-22 production in 2017, it is highly likely that China’s reported emissions reductions haven’t taken place.”
Because India’s HCFC-22 production accounts for just 7 percent of global production, it’s harder to guess how much progress the country has made in its efforts to reduce HFC-23 emissions.
According to Stanley, had China and India truly made the emissions reduction progress they reported, that would mean large amounts of illegal, unreported HCFC-22 were manufactured in 2017. If that had happened, Stanley said the hydrocarbon’s price should have dropped. It didn’t.
After the ozone-eating gases, chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were banned by the Montreal Protocol, most industries adopted a variety of alternative gases — hydrofluorocarbons. While most of theses gases are less harmful to the ozone layer, some feature a greenhouse gas effect.
In 2016, parties to the Montreal Protocol signed the Kigali Amendment, aiming to reduce the warming impact of HFCs.
HFC-23’s greenhouse gas effect is particularly potent. Just 1 metric ton of HFC-23 is equivalent to the greenhouse gas effect of 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
This isn’t the first time scientists have found concentrations of a gas regulated by the Montreal Protocol and its amendments. In 2018, scientists found evidence of a dramatic rise in the ozone-eating gas CFC-11. Investigations revealed China’s foam industry as the primary driver of the emissions increase.
“These two findings do suggest that monitoring of the chemical industry may need to be improved in China,” Rigby said. “In light of the finding of new emissions of CFC-11 from China, the government has announced additional monitoring initiatives focused on ozone depleting substances. Hopefully, they will also be able to look into these continuing emissions of the greenhouse gas, HFC-23.”
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Scientists film chemical bond making, breaking
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 17, 2020
Everything depends on chemical bonds. Without chemical bonds, everything would fall apart. And yet, scientists don’t entirely understand how chemical bonding works.
Now, for the first time, scientists have filmed chemical bond making and breaking in action. The breakthrough – described this week in the journal Science Advances – promises to offer scientists new insights into this fundamental atomic phenomenon.
The main reason chemical bonding isn’t well understood is that the processes … read more
Earth's oldest asteroid impact 'may have ended ice age' – BBC News
Scientists have identified the world’s oldest asteroid crater in Australia, adding it may explain how the planet was lifted from an ice age.
The asteroid hit Yarrabubba in Western Australia about 2.2 billion years ago – making the crater about half the age of Earth, researchers say.
Their conclusion was reached by testing minerals found in rocks at the site.
The scientists say the find is exciting because it could account for a warming event during that era.
How did they date it?
The crater was discovered in the dry outback in 1979, but geologists had not previously tested how old it was.
Due to billions of years of erosion, the crater is not visible to the eye. Scientists mapped scars in the area’s magnetic field to determine its 70km (43 miles) diameter.
“The landscape is actually very flat because it’s so old, but the rocks there are distinctive,” researcher Prof Chris Kirkland told the BBC.
To determine when the asteroid hit Earth, the team examined tiny zircon and monazite crystals in the rocks. They were “shocked” in the strike and now can be read like “tree rings”, Prof Kirkland said.
These crystals hold tiny amounts of uranium. Because uranium decays into lead at a consistent pace, the researchers were able to calculate how much time had passed.
It is at least 200 million years older than the next most ancient impact structure – the Vredefort Dome in South Africa.
“We were interested in the area because the Western Australian landscape is very old but we didn’t expected [the crater] to be as old as this,” Prof Kirkland said.
“It’s absolutely possible that there’s an older crater out there just waiting to be discovered, but the difficulty is in finding the crust before it erodes and you lose that early Earth history”.
Could it have ended an ice age?
The timing of the impact could also explain why the world warmed around this time, according to the researchers.
Scientists believe the planet was previously in one of its “Snowball Earth” periods, when it was largely covered in ice. At some point, the ice sheets melted and the planet began to rapidly warm.
“The age of the [crater] corresponds pretty precisely with the end of a potential global glacial period,” Prof Kirkland said.
“So the impact may have had significant changes to our planetary climate.”
Using computer modelling, the team calculated that the asteroid struck a kilometres-thick ice sheet covering the Earth. The event would have released huge volumes of water vapour, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.
This could have helped the planet’s warming during the Proterozoic era – a stage when oxygen had just appeared in the atmosphere and complex life had not yet formed.
“Obviously we were very excited just with the age itself,” Prof Kirkland said. “But placing that right with the context of Earth’s other events makes it become really very interesting.”
There is not enough modelling from the time to comprehensively test the theory, but “the rocks tell a story about the massive impact into the planet”.
Another theory for the warming event is that volcanic eruptions may have pushed carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
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