NF3, the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto
Article first published online: 26 JUN 2008
Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 35, Issue 12, 28 June 2008
How to Cite
2008), NF3, the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L12810, doi:10.1029/2008GL034542., and (
- Issue published online: 26 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 26 JUN 2008
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 MAY 2008
- Manuscript Received: 5 MAY 2008
- greenhouse gases;
- nitrogen trifluoride;
- Kyoto Protocol;
- climate change
 Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) can be called the missing greenhouse gas: It is a synthetic chemical produced in industrial quantities; it is not included in the Kyoto basket of greenhouse gases or in national reporting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and there are no observations documenting its atmospheric abundance. Current publications report a long lifetime of 740 yr and a global warming potential (GWP), which in the Kyoto basket is second only to SF6. We re-examine the atmospheric chemistry of NF3 and calculate a shorter lifetime of 550 yr, but still far beyond any societal time frames. With 2008 production equivalent to 67 million metric tons of CO2, NF3 has a potential greenhouse impact larger than that of the industrialized nations' emissions of PFCs or SF6, or even that of the world's largest coal-fired power plants. If released, annual production would increase the lower atmospheric abundance by 0.4 ppt, and it is urgent to document NF3 emissions through atmospheric observations.