Calculation of the Global Warming Potential for Sulfur Hexafluoride Using the Updated Atmospheric Lifetime from Moore, et al.

  • John G. Owens


Data presented by F. Moore1 regarding recent measurements of the concentration of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) in air suggest a revision to the atmospheric lifetime for this compound. Concentrations of SF6 and other trace atmospheric gases were measured at altitudes ranging from 3 to 30 kilometers (well into the stratosphere). Mesospheric air (representing air from altitudes above 50 km) was sampled from air masses moving through the polar vortices. Preliminary comparison of the SF6 concentration profile to that for CO2 indicates that the previous calculation of its atmospheric lifetime (i.e., the time to reach 1/e of its original concentration) at 3200 years is overestimated by a factor of approximately 5, assuming the dominant atmospheric sink for SF6 is in the mesosphere.


Global Warming Intergovernmental Panel Global Warming Potential Ozone Depletion Polar Vortex 
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  1. 1.
    Moore, F., E. Ray, J. Elkins, A. Andrews, B. Daube, and S. Wofsy, “Measured SF6 loss and its influence on age of air calculations”, J. Geophys. Res., in press; also presented at Gaseous Dielectrics IX, Ellicott City, MD, 2001.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, edited by J. T. Houghton, et ai, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 1996.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    WMO (World Meteorological Organization), Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 1998, Global Ozone Research and Monitoring Project - Report No. 44, 1999.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John G. Owens
    • 1
  1. 1.3M Specialty Materials LaboratorySt. PaulUSA

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