Scientists Identify Two New Potent Greenhouse Gases

by VR Sreeraman on  March 25, 2009 at 12:22 PM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
 Scientists Identify Two New Potent Greenhouse Gases
Scientists have identified two new greenhouse gases - one emitted by the electronic industry and the other used in pest control, which are rapidly accumulating in the atmosphere.

According to a report by ABC News, climate scientist Dr Paul Fraser of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research have reported the measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and sulfuryl fluoride (SO2F2), the two new gases.

They say that countries should consider including these gases for control in the revision of the Kyoto Protocol due later this year.

"Although their abundance in the atmosphere is quite low their growth rates are relatively high," said Fraser, who worked with a team at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US.

Fraser said that industry began using the two industrial gases from the late 1990s, partly as alternatives to other harmful greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases.

He said that NF3 was chosen by the electronics industry to replace perfluorocarbons (PFCs), particularly in the manufacture of circuit-boards in liquid-crystal flat-panel screens.

SO2F2 was chosen to replace methyl bromide as a fumigant.

Fraser said the International Panel on Climate Change identified the greenhouse potential of NF3 and SO2F2 over a decade ago, but he and colleagues have only recently begun measuring their atmospheric accumulation.

They measured the gases, which are circulating the globe, at various locations including Trinidad Head, La Jolla in California, and Cape Grim in Tasmania.

"The gases are in the clean air coming off the Southern Ocean in Tasmania," said Fraser.

He said that the gases are known to be between 600 and 5000 times more potent than CO2.

"They are currently only present at a concentration of 10 parts per trillion in the atmosphere, but are growing at around 5 percent a year, faster than any of the greenhouse gasses included in the Kyoto Protocol," said Fraser.

According to Fraser, consideration has to be given to whether NF3 and SO2F2 should be included in a future version of the Kyoto Protocol.

"Whether we control them or not, we have to take into account their current and future impact if we want to be able to predict climate change," he said.

Fraser said that while the new gases would have less than 1 percent impact on climate by 2050, controlling NF3 is particularly important because it persists for hundreds of years in the atmosphere.

Source: ANI

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