New greenhouse gas on the surge

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NILU scientists at the Zeppelin Observatory on Mount Zeppelin on the Arctic island of Ny-Alesund, are recording a surge in a highly potent greenhouse gas, called HFC134a. One molecule of HFC134a has a warming effect more than a thousand times that of a molecule of CO2.

Since the ban on the chemically related CFCs, HFC134a has been manufactured in growing quantities for use in air conditioning systems in cars and buildings.

Manufacturers of air conditioners say their systems are designed to prevent leaks. `The rapid increase shows that whatever the industry claims, the gases are not being contained,` says Chris Rose of the Multisectoral Initiative on Potent Industrial Greenhouse Gases, based in London to New Scientist.

- Our observations at the Zeppelin Observatory show that concentrations of HFC134a has doubled between 2001 and 2004, says Senior Scientist Chris Lunder at The Norwegian Institute for Air Research  (NILU)

- Considering the huge warming effect of this new gas, one thousand times that of CO2,  and the sharp increase in its volume,, it is of utmost importance to monitor it closely, says Lunder.

Director Pål Prestrud of CICERO (the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo) is of the same opinion.

- The amount of HFC134a  is still to little to make an impact on global warming, but the fact that is is so potent and increasing rapidly in volume,  makes it essential for us to follow its development closely, says Prestrud.

New greenhouse gas on the surge

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