Stratospheric carbon isotope fractionation and tropospheric histories of CFC-11, CFC-12, and CFC-113 isotopologues.

We present novel measurements of the carbon isotope composition of CFC-11 (CCl3F), CFC-12 (CCl2F2), and CFC-113 (CF2ClCFCl2), three atmospheric trace gases that are important for both stratospheric ozone depletion and global warming. These measurements were carried out on air samples collected in the stratosphere – the main sink region for these gases – and on air extracted from deep polar firn snow. We quantify, for the first time, the apparent isotopic fractionation, ϵapp(13C), for these gases as they are destroyed in the high- and mid-latitude stratosphere: ϵapp(CFC-12, high-latitude) =(−20.2±4.4) ‰, and ϵapp(CFC-113, high-latitude) =(−9.4±4.4) ‰, ϵapp(CFC-12, mid-latitude) =(−30.3±10.7) ‰, and ϵapp(CFC-113, mid-latitude) =(−34.4±9.8) ‰. Our CFC-11 measurements were not sufficient to calculate ϵapp(CFC-11), so we instead used previously reported photolytic fractionation for CFC-11 and CFC-12 to scale our ϵapp(CFC-12), resulting in ϵapp(CFC-11, high-latitude) =(−7.8±1.7) ‰ and ϵapp(CFC-11, mid-latitude) =(−11.7±4.2) ‰. Measurements of firn air were used to construct histories of the tropospheric isotopic composition, δT(13C), for CFC-11 (1950s to 2009), CFC-12 (1950s to 2009), and CFC-113 (1970s to 2009), with δT(13C) increasing for each gas. We used ϵapp(high-latitude), which was derived from more data, and a constant isotopic composition of emissions, δE(13C), to model δT(13C, CFC-11), δT(13C, CFC-12), and δT(13C, CFC-113). For CFC-11 and CFC-12, modelled δT(13C) was consistent with measured δT(13C) for the entire period covered by the measurements, suggesting that no dramatic change in δE(13C, CFC-11) or δE(13C, CFC-12) has occurred since the 1950s. For CFC-113, our modelled δT(13C, CFC-113) did not agree with our measurements earlier than 1980. This discrepancy may be indicative of a change in δE(13C, CFC-113). However, this conclusion is based largely on a single sample and only just significant outside the 95 % confidence interval. Therefore more work is needed to independently verify this temporal trend in the global tropospheric 13C isotopic composition of CFC-113. Our modelling predicts increasing δT(13C, CFC-11), δT(13C, CFC-12), and δT(13C, CFC-113) into the future. We investigated the effect of recently reported new CFC-11 emissions on background δT(13C, CFC-11) by fixing model emissions after 2012 and comparing δT(13C, CFC-11) in this scenario to the model base case. The difference in δT(13C, CFC-11) between these scenarios was 1.4 ‰ in 2050. This difference is smaller than our model uncertainty envelope and would therefore require improved modelling and measurement precision as well as better quantified isotopic source compositions to detect.


Publication status:
Authors: Thomas, M., Laube, J.C., Kaiser, J., Allin, S., Martinerie, P., Mulvaney, R. ORCIDORCID record for R. Mulvaney, Ridley, A., Röckmann, T., Sturges, W.T., Witrant, E.

On this site: Robert Mulvaney
5 May, 2021
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics / 21
17pp / 6857-6873
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