Articles | Volume 20, issue 12
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 7271–7290, 2020
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 7271–7290, 2020

Research article 23 Jun 2020

Research article | 23 Jun 2020

The increasing atmospheric burden of the greenhouse gas sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)

Peter G. Simmonds et al.

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Cited articles

AGAGE: The guidelines for use of AGAGE data, available at: (last access: 2 December 2019), 2020. 
Arnold, T., Mühle, J., Salameh, P. K., Harth, C. M., Ivy, D. J., and Weiss, R. F.: Automated Measurement of Nitrogen Trifluoride in Ambient Air, Anal. Chem., 84, 4798–4804,, 2012. 
Arnold, T., Manning, A. J., Kim, J., Li, S., Webster, H., Thomson, D., Mühle, J., Weiss, R. F., Park, S., and O'Doherty, S.: Inverse modelling of CF4 and NF3 emissions in East Asia, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 13305–13320,, 2018. 
Bakwin, P. S., Hurst, D. F., Tans, P. P., and Elkins, J. W.: Anthropogenic sources of halocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, carbon monoxide and methane in the southeastern United States, J. Geophys. Res., 102, 15915–15925, 1997. 
Biasse, J. M.: What will Medium Voltage switchgear look like in the future?, Schneider Electric, available at: (last access: 3 February 2020), 2014. 
Short summary
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is a potent greenhouse gas which is regulated under the Kyoto Protocol. From a 40-year record of measurements, collected at five global monitoring sites and archived air samples, we show that its concentration in the atmosphere has steadily increased. Using modelling techniques, we estimate that global emissions have increased by about 24 % over the past decade. We find that this increase is driven by the demand for SF6-insulated switchgear in developing countries.
Final-revised paper