Researchers have discovered that total bromine in the lower atmosphere has been decreasing since 1998 and is now more than five percent below the peak reached that year. Bromine is one of the most active destroyers of the stratospheric ozone layer, which forms an invisible shield around the Earth, protecting it from the biologically damaging ultraviolet rays of the Sun.
Stephen A. Montzka and colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, attribute the decline of total bromine primarily to international restrictions on industrial production of methyl bromide. Their report will be published August 15 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
"The decrease is driven by a large and rapid decline in methyl bromide, a brominated gas that is regulated internationally by the Montreal Protocol," said Montzka. The surprisingly large drop in atmospheric methyl bromide, about 13 percent since 1998, has more than offset the small increases still observed for bromine from fire-extinguishing agents known as halons. Bromine is about 50 times more efficient than chlorine at destroying stratospheric ozone.
Harvey Leifert | AGU
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