Consistent sets of atmospheric lifetimes and radiative forcings on climate for CFC replacements: HCFCs and HFCs


  • Vaishali Naik,

  • Atul K. Jain,

  • Kenneth O. Patten,

  • Donald J. Wuebbles


Recognition of deleterious effects of chlorine and bromine on ozone and climate over the last several decades has resulted in international accords to halt the production of chlorine-containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromine-containing halons. It is well recognized, however, that these chemicals have had important uses to society, particularly as refrigerants, as solvents, as plastic blowing agents, as fire retardants and as aerosol propellants. This has led to an extensive search for substitute chemicals with appropriate properties to be used in place of the CFCs and halons. The purpose of this study is to evaluate in a consistent manner the atmospheric lifetime and radiative forcing on climate for a number of replacement compounds. The unique aspect of this study is its attempt to resolve inconsistencies in previous evaluations of atmospheric lifetimes and radiative forcings for these compounds by adopting a uniform approach. Using the latest version of our two-dimensional chemical-radiative-transport model of the global atmosphere, we have determined the atmospheric lifetimes of 28 hydrohalocarbons (HCFCs and HFCs). Through the comparison of the model-calculated lifetimes with lifetimes derived using a simple scaling method, our study adds to earlier findings that consideration of stratospheric losses is important in determining the lifetimes of gases. Discrepancies were found in the reported lifetimes of several replacement compounds reported in the international assessment of stratospheric ozone published by the World Meteorological Organization [Granier et al., 1999] and have been resolved. We have also derived the adjusted and instantaneous radiative forcings for CFC-11 and 20 other halocarbons using our radiative transfer model. The sensitivity of radiative forcings to the vertical distribution of these gases is investigated in this study and is shown to be significant. The difference in the global radiative forcing arising from the assumption of a constant vertical profile for these gases is found to range from 0 to 36%, with higher difference for short-lived gases. Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) for the compounds are determined using the lifetimes and radiative forcings evaluated in this study and are found to differ from values reported by Granier et al. [1999] owing to the differences in our calculated radiative forcings and lifetimes.