The oceans do not forget: despite being banned since the 80s, they predict that aerosols will resurface after decades submerged
The chlorofluorocarbonos (CFCs) they are one of the chemical aerosols that helped create the hole in the ozone layer. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol banned its use globally, after verifying its impact on our atmosphere.
Since then, CFC levels have dropped dramatically and the atmosphere itself has been recovering. But all those molecules haven’t disappeared, the oceans absorbed them. And according to a recent MIT study published in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’will resurface into the atmosphere in the future, as if some country had decided to reissue them.
The reversed process: the oceans will re-emit CFCs
The ocean and the atmosphere are kept in a kind of balance. When there are many molecules soluble in water, such as these CFCs, it is the oceans that are responsible for absorbing them. This is what happened in the 1980s when a large number of these harmful aerosols were emitted.
As the world has stopped producing them, the oceans absorb less. But the balance reaches a point where it will be reversed and, according to MIT, the oceans will become CFC emitters.
The absorption capacity of the oceans is also affected by climate change, which will accelerate the process, according to the study. When will this change occur? According to the researchers, By 2075, the oceans will emit more CFC-11 into the atmosphere than they absorb, emitting detectable amounts of aerosols by 2130.
“By the first half of the 22nd century, there will be enough flow out of the ocean that it might look like someone is cheating the Montreal Protocol, but instead, it could simply be what emerges from the ocean, “he explains. Susan Solomon, Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT.
“For some time, human emissions were so great that what was going into the ocean was considered negligible. Now, as we try to get rid of emissions, we find that we can no longer completely ignore what the ocean is doing,” follow Solomon.
Scientists estimate that the oceans have absorbed between 5 and 10% of all CFC-11 emissions produced. A level that by the middle of the next century will have reached the saturation point and the waters of our planet will return to the atmosphere what they have been receiving for years.
The next steps in the study are to try to improve your prediction and determine how this change will occur. A emission of aerosols from the oceans that must be taken into account in the future when calculating the state of the atmosphere and where the different emissions may arise.