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Big increase in potent greenhouse gases reported

The research, which heralds from the University of Bristol (U.K.), contradicts earlier studies which inferred that global emissions of the potent greenhouse gas were close to being eliminated (such studies were issued in 2017). The new data, which has been assessed by an international team of scientists, finds that atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases are increasing at record values.

A greenhouse gas is a type of gas which absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect, contributing to global warming. Greenhouse gases are almost totally the result of human activity. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere by agricultural practices and through the burning of fossil fuels.

Another greenhouse gas of concern and one that has been tracked by the researchers is a type of hydrofluorocarbon called HFC-23. Hydrofluorocarbons are organic compounds that contain fluorine and hydrogen atoms. These types of chemicals are used in air conditioning and as refrigerants. The environmental risk is that these chemicals possess thousands of times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Back in 2015, India and China, identified as the main emitters of HFC-23, put forward detailed plans to reduce emissions in factories that produce the gas (as detailed in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol). In 2017, various research studies indicated that these two large, industrializing nations had been successful with their plans and HFC-23 levels had abated.

The new study finds that this is not the case and that both China and India remain major contributors to global warming trough hydrofluorocarbon emissions. The atmospheric data indicates that further work is required in these two nations as well as across the international community in order to reduce the release of greenhouse gases.

The new research has been reported to the journal Nature Communications. The study is titled “Increase in global emissions of HFC-23 despite near-total expected reductions.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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