Low European methyl chloroform emissions inferred from long-term atmospheric measurements

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nature, Volume 433, Issue 7025, p.506 - 508 (2005)






Methyl chloroform (CH3CCl3, 1,1,1,-trichloroethane) was used widely as a solvent before it was recognized to be an ozone-depleting substance and its phase-out was introduced under the Montreal Protocol. Subsequently, its atmospheric concentration has declined steadily and recent European methyl chloroform consumption and emissions were estimated to be less than 0.1 gigagrams per year. However, data from a short-term tropospheric measurement campaign (EXPORT) indicated that European methyl chloroform emissions could have been over 20 gigagrams in 2000 (ref. 6), almost doubling previously estimated global emissions. Such enhanced emissions would significantly affect results from the CH3CC13 method of deriving global abundances of hydroxyl radicals (OH) (refs 7–12)—the dominant reactive atmospheric chemical for removing trace gases related to air pollution, ozone depletion and the greenhouse effect. Here we use long-term, high-frequency data from Mace Head, Ireland and Jungfraujoch, Switzerland, to infer European methyl chloroform emissions. We find that European emission estimates declined from about 60 gigagrams per year in the mid-1990s to 0.3–1.4 and 1.9–3.4 gigagrams per year in 2000–03, based on Mace Head and Jungfraujoch data, respectively. Our European methyl chloroform emission estimates are therefore higher than calculated from consumption data, but are considerably lower than those derived from the EXPORT campaign in 2000 (ref. 6).