The increasing threat to stratospheric ozone from dichloromethane.05 Apr 2018
It is well established that anthropogenic chlorine-containing chemicals contribute to ozone layer depletion. The successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol has led to reductions in the atmospheric concentration of many ozone-depleting gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons. As a consequence, stratospheric chlorine levels are declining and ozone is projected to return to levels observed pre-1980 later this century. However, recent observations show the atmospheric concentration of dichloromethane-an ozone-depleting gas not controlled by the Montreal Protocol-is increasing rapidly. Using atmospheric model simulations, we show that although currently modest, the impact of dichloromethane on ozone has increased markedly in recent years and if these increases continue into the future, the return of Antarctic ozone to pre-1980 levels could be substantially delayed. Sustained growth in dichloromethane would therefore offset some of the gains achieved by the Montreal Protocol, further delaying recovery of Earth's ozone layer.