Maps of a priori and inversely determined HFC‐23 emission rates (mg/m2/yr) and corresponding uncertainties. (a) A priori emission map depicting the officially reported country emissions of 2009. (b and c) Bayesian inversion and (time variable) point source analysis emission maps, respectively, showing the optimized emission fluxes as determined by inverse modeling for the time period July 2008–July 2010. (d–f) Estimated uncertainties of a priori emissions, Bayesian inversion results and point source analysis results. Black dots show the measurement sites, and the crosses indicate locations of HCFC‐22 production plants. For better visualization, HFC‐23 emissions were omitted below 0 mg/m2/yr and above 2,000 mg/m2/yr. Graphic: Keller, et al., 2017 / Geophysical Research Letters

By Matt McGrath
7 August 2017

(BBC News) – Potent, climate warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but are not being recorded in official inventories, a BBC investigation has found.

Air monitors in Switzerland have detected large quantities of one gas coming from a location in Italy.

However, the Italian submission to the UN records just a tiny amount of the substance being emitted.

Levels of some emissions from India and China are so uncertain that experts say their records are plus or minus 100%.

These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump's intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4's Counting Carbon programme. […]

In 2011, Swiss scientists first published their data on levels of a gas called HFC-23 coming from a location in northern Italy.

Between 2008 and 2010, they had recorded samples of the chemical, produced in the refrigeration and air conditioning industries, which is 14,800 times more warming to the atmosphere than CO2.

Now the scientists, at the Jungfraujoch Swiss air monitoring station, have told the BBC the gas is still going into the atmosphere. […]

Another rare warming gas, carbon tetrachloride, once popular as a refrigerant and a solvent but very damaging to the ozone layer, has been banned in Europe since 2002.

But Dr Reimann told Counting Carbon: "We still see 10,000-20,000 tonnes coming out of China every year."

"That is something that shouldn't be there.

"There is actually no Chinese inventory for these gases, as they are banned and industry shouldn't be releasing them anymore." […]

A report in 2015 suggested one error in China's statistics amounted to 10% of global emissions in 2013. […]

For a country such as India, home to 15% of the world's livestock, methane is a very important gas in their inventory - but the amount produced is subject to a high degree of uncertainty. […]

"What they note is that methane emissions are about 50% uncertain for categories like ruminants, so what this means is that the emissions they submit could be plus or minus 50% of what's been submitted," said Dr Anita Ganesan, from the University of Bristol, who has overseen air monitoring research in the country.

"For nitrous oxide, that's 100%."

There are similar uncertainties with methane emissions in Russia, of between 30-40%, according to scientists who work there.

"What we're worried about is what the planet experiences, never mind what the statistics are," said Prof Euan Nisbet, from Royal Holloway, University of London.

"In the air, we see methane going up. The warming impact from that methane is enough to derail Paris." [more]

'Dodgy' greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord

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