Navigation Links
New greenhouse gas identified
Date:3/11/2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--A gas used for fumigation has the potential to contribute significantly to future greenhouse warming, but because its production has not yet reached high levels there is still time to nip this potential contributor in the bud, according to an international team of researchers.

Scientists at MIT, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and other institutions are reporting the results of their study of the gas, sulfuryl fluoride, this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research. The researchers have measured the levels of the gas in the atmosphere, and determined its emissions and lifetime to help gauge its potential future effects on climate.

Sulfuryl fluoride was introduced as a replacement for methyl bromide, a widely used fumigant that is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol because of its ozone-destroying chemistry. Methyl bromide has been widely used for insect control in grain-storage facilities, and in intensive agriculture in arid lands where drip irrigation is combined with covering of the land with plastic sheets to control evaporation.

"Such fumigants are very important for controlling pests in the agricultural and building sectors," says Ron Prinn, director of MIT's Center for Global Change Science and a co-author on the new paper. But with methyl bromide being phased out, "industry had to find alternatives, so sulfuryl fluoride has evolved to fill the role," he says.

Until the new work, nobody knew accurately how long the gas would last in the atmosphere after it leaked out of buildings or grain silos. "Our analysis has shown that the lifetime is about 36 years, or eight times greater than previously thought, with the ocean being its dominant sink," Prinn says. So it would become "a greenhouse gas of some importance if the quantity of its use grows as people expect." For now, the gas is only present in the atmosphere in very small quantities of about 1.5 parts per trillion, though it is increasing by about 5 percent per year. Its newly reported 36-year lifetime, along with studies of its infrared-absorbing properties by researchers at NOAA, "indicate that, ton for ton, it is about 4,800 times more potent a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide" says Prinn.

Fortunately, though, "we've caught it very early in the game," says Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. The detection was made through a NASA-sponsored global research program called the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE). "In AGAGE, we don't just monitor the big greenhouse gases that everybody's heard of," he says. "This program is also designed to sniff out potential greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases before the industry gets very big."

The lead author of the research paper is Jens Mhle of Scripps, and besides Prinn, the co-authors include Jin Huang, a research scientist at MIT's Center for Global Change Science, Ray Weiss of Scripps, who co-directs AGAGE with Prinn, and eight others from Scripps, the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research.

"Unfortunately, it turns out that sulfuryl fluoride is a greenhouse gas with a longer lifetime than previously assumed," says Mhle. "This has to be taken into account before large amounts are emitted into the atmosphere."

Prinn adds that "fumigation is a big industry, and it's absolutely needed to preserve our buildings and food supply." But identifying the greenhouse risks from this particular compound, before many factories have been built to produce it in very large amounts, would give the industry a chance to find other substitutes at a time when that's still a relatively easy change to implement. "Given human inventiveness, there are surely other alternatives out there," says Prinn. He describes this approach as "a new frontier for environmental science to try to head off potential dangers as early as possible, rather than wait until it's a mature industry with lots of capital and jobs at stake."


'/>"/>

Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Termite killer lingers as a potent greenhouse gas
2. Detecting disease in greenhouse plants
3. Termite insecticide a potent greenhouse gas
4. Oil spray reduces greenhouse gas emissions from pig finishing barns
5. MIT: Safe storage of greenhouse-gas carbon dioxide
6. MIT analysis shows how cap-and-trade plans can cut greenhouse emissions
7. Potent greenhouse gas more prevalent in atmosphere than previously assumed
8. Greenhouse gas auction revenues can help cut Md. electric use significantly, says study
9. Carbon dioxide scrubber captures greenhouse gases
10. Action needed now for Minnesota to reach goals in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2015
11. Smart greenhouse research partnership unveiled
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/28/2017)... LOS ANGELES , Feb. 28, 2017   ... identity verification software globally, announces significant enhancements to new ... in May 2016. New products include mobile and desktop ... and DocX TM - a real time manual ... Acuant,s core idScan® technology provides the fastest and most ...
(Date:2/26/2017)... -- Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil and ... corrections and monitoring, announces the appointment of a ... often, too many offenders return to jail or ... to tackle this ongoing problem and improve the ... significant steps are underway, Securus continues to invest ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... Der weltweite Biobanking-Sektor wird bis ... Gespräch mit mehr als 50 Vertretern aus verschiedenen Branchen wurde ... um diese Prognose zu realisieren. ... Zu den Schwierigkeiten ... Mittel für die Biobank, die Implementierung Zeit sparender Technologien, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)... New Canaan, CT (PRWEB) , ... March 29, 2017 , ... ... of antibiotics and hormones in the world’s food supply through enhancement of the gut ... in the round included Connecticut Innovations , New York-based Sustainable Income Capital Management, ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... GeneNews Limited (TSX:GEN) ("GeneNews" or the "Company") announced today ... test for breast cancer, via its Virginia ... a blood-based biomarker test with a sophisticated algorithm to determine ... ... BreastSentry measures the fasting plasma levels of two biomarkers in ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... replace paper-based processes and enhance training plan management for consistent implementation of standards ... partner with the SHL Group to help improve and streamline their training and ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... Michigan (PRWEB) , ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National ... approximately $750,000 over two years to develop a suite of BioGel™ biopolymer materials ...
Breaking Biology Technology: