Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NOAA study shows nitrous oxide now top ozone-depleting emission

28.08.2009
Nitrous oxide has now become the largest ozone-depleting substance emitted through human activities, and is expected to remain the largest throughout the 21st century, NOAA scientists say in a new study.

For the first time, this study has evaluated nitrous oxide emissions from human activities in terms of their potential impact on Earth's ozone layer.

As chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which have been phased out by international agreement, ebb in the atmosphere, nitrous oxide will remain a significant ozone-destroyer, the study found. Today, nitrous oxide emissions from human activities are more than twice as high as the next leading ozone-depleting gas.

Nitrous oxide is emitted from natural sources and as a byproduct of agricultural fertilization and other industrial processes. Calculating the effect on the ozone layer now and in the future, NOAA researchers found that emissions of nitrous oxide from human activities erode the ozone layer and will continue to do so for many decades.

The study, authored by A.R. Ravishankara, J.S. Daniel and Robert W. Portmann of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) chemical sciences division, appears online today in the journal Science. ESRL tracks the thickness of the ozone layer, as well as the burden of ozone-depleting compounds in the atmosphere. It maintains a large portion of the world air sampling and measurement network. NOAA scientists also conduct fundamental studies of the atmosphere and atmospheric processes to improve understanding of ozone depletion and of the potential for recovery the ozone layer.

"The dramatic reduction in CFCs over the last 20 years is an environmental success story. But manmade nitrous oxide is now the elephant in the room among ozone-depleting substances," said Ravishankara, lead author of the study and director of the ESRL Chemical Sciences Division in Boulder, Colo.

The ozone layer serves to shield plants, animals and people from excessive ultraviolet light from the sun. Thinning of the ozone layer allows more ultraviolet light to reach the Earth's surface where it can damage crops and aquatic life and harm human health.

Though the role of nitrous oxide in ozone depletion has been known for several decades, the new study is the first to explicitly calculate that role using the same measures that have been applied to CFCs, halons and other chlorine- and bromine-containing ozone-depleting substances.

With CFCs and certain other ozone-depleting gases coming in check as a result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the international treaty that phased out ozone-destroying compounds, manmade nitrous oxide is becoming an increasingly larger fraction of the emissions of ozone-depleting substances. Nitrous oxide is not regulated by the Montreal Protocol.

Nitrous oxide is also a greenhouse gas, so reducing its emission from manmade sources would be good for both the ozone layer and climate, the scientists said.

In addition to soil fertilization, nitrous oxide is emitted from livestock manure, sewage treatment, combustion and certain other industrial processes. Dentists use it as a sedative (so-called "laughing gas"). In nature, bacteria in soil and the oceans break down nitrogen-containing compounds, releasing nitrous oxide. About one-third of global nitrous oxide emissions are from human activities. Nitrous oxide, like CFCs, is stable when emitted at ground level, but breaks down when it reaches the stratosphere to form other gases, called nitrogen oxides, that trigger ozone-destroying reactions.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

Linda Joy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.noaa.gov
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Novel study underscores microbial individuality
13.12.2019 | Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

nachricht TU Dresden biologists examine sperm quality on the basis of their metabolism
29.11.2019 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Integrate Micro Chips for electronic Skin

Researchers from Dresden and Osaka present the first fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits which opens the path towards the development of electronic skin.

Human skin is a fascinating and multifunctional organ with unique properties originating from its flexible and compliant nature. It allows for interfacing with...

Im Focus: Dresden researchers discover resistance mechanism in aggressive cancer

Protease blocks guardian function against uncontrolled cell division

Researchers of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital Dresden at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC), together with an international...

Im Focus: New roles found for Huntington's disease protein

Crucial role in synapse formation could be new avenue toward treatment

A Duke University research team has identified a new function of a gene called huntingtin, a mutation of which underlies the progressive neurodegenerative...

Im Focus: A new look at 'strange metals'

For years, a new synthesis method has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna) to unlock the secrets of "strange metals". Now a breakthrough has been achieved. The results have been published in "Science".

Superconductors allow electrical current to flow without any resistance - but only below a certain critical temperature. Many materials have to be cooled down...

Im Focus: Programmable nests for cells

KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications

Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

The synthesis of bio-based high-performance polyamide from biogenic residues: A real alternative to crude oil

27.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Superfast insights into cellular events

27.01.2020 | Life Sciences

The 'place' of emotions

27.01.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>