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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  15 Sep 2020

15 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Global trends and European emissions of tetrafluoromethane (CF4), hexafluoroethane (C2F6) and octafluoropropane (C3F8)

Daniel Say1, Alistair J. Manning2, Luke M. Western1, Dickon Young1, Adam Wisher1, Matthew Rigby1, Stefan Reimann3, Martin K. Vollmer3, Michela Maione4, Jgor Arduini4, Paul B. Krummel5, Jens Mühle6, Christina M. Harth6, Brendan Evans1, Ray F. Weiss6, Ronald G. Prinn7, and Simon O'Doherty1 Daniel Say et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TS, UK
  • 2Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK
  • 3Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600, Dübendorf, Switzerland
  • 4Department of Pure and Applied Sciences, University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy
  • 5Climate Science Centre, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Aspendale, Australia
  • 6Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, USA
  • 7Center for Global Change Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave, Building 54-1312, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Abstract. Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are amongst the most potent greenhouse gases listed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With atmospheric lifetimes in the order of thousands to tens of thousands of years, PFC emissions represent a permanent alteration to the global atmosphere on human timescales. While the industries responsible for the vast majority of these emissions – aluminium smelting and semi-conductor manufacturing – have made efficiency improvements and introduced abatement measures, the global mean mole fractions of three PFCs, namely tetrafluoromethane (CF4, PFC-14), hexafluoroethane (C2F6, PFC-116) and octafluoropropane (C3F8, PFC-218), continue to grow. In this study, we update baseline growth rates using in-situ high-frequency measurements from the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) and, using data from four European stations, estimate PFC emissions for northwest Europe. The global growth rate of CF4 decreased from 1.3 ppt yr−1 in 1979 to 0.6 ppt yr−1 around 2010 followed by a renewed steady increase to 0.9 ppt yr−1 in 2018. For C2F6, the growth rate grew to a maximum of 0.125 ppt yr−1 around 1999, followed by a decline to a minimum of 0.075 ppt yr−1 in 2009, followed by weak growth thereafter. The C3F8 growth rate was around 0.007 ppt yr−1 until the early 1990s and then quickly grew to a maximum of 0.03 ppt yr−1 in 2003/04. Following a period of decline until 2012 to 0.015 ppt yr−1, the growth rate slowly increased again to ~ 0.017 ppt yr−1 in 2019. Unlike CF4 (and to a lesser extent C2F6), we observed no clear minimum associated with the 2008 financial crisis for C3F8. We used an inverse modelling framework to infer PFC emissions for northwest Europe. No statistically significant trend in regional emissions was observed for any of the PFCs assessed. For CF4, European emissions in early years were linked predominantly to the aluminium industry. However, we link large emissions in recent years to a chemical manufacturer in northwest Italy. Emissions of C2F6 are linked to a range of sources, including a semi-conductor manufacturer in Ireland and a cluster of smelters in Germany's Ruhr valley. In contrast, northwest European emissions of C3F8 are dominated by a single source in northwest England, raising the possibility of using emissions from this site for a tracer release experiment.

Daniel Say et al.

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Daniel Say et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are potent greenhouse gases with exceedingly long lifetimes. We used atmospheric measurements from a global monitoring network to track the accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere. In the case of the two most abundant PFCs, recent measurements indicate that global emissions are increasing. In Europe, we used a model to estimate regional PFC emissions. Our results show that there was no significant decline in northwest European PFC emissions between 2010 and 2019.
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are potent greenhouse gases with exceedingly long lifetimes. We used...