N2O and the ozone layer

As was mentioned in Chapter 1, before N2O emissions began to receive attention because of their contribution to global warming, the main environmental concern relating to N2O was its role in depleting the stratospheric ozone layer. This topic has been given prominence again; Ravishankara et al (2009) wrote recently:

By comparing the ozone depletion potential-weighted anthropogenic emissions of N2O with those of other ozone-depleting substances, we show that N2O emission currently is the single most important ozone-depleting emission and is expected to remain the largest throughout the 21st century. N2O is unregulated by the Montreal Protocol. Limiting future N2O emissions would enhance the recovery of the ozone layer from its depleted state and would also reduce the anthropogenic forcing of the climate system, representing a 'win-win' for both ozone and climate.

Thus although this book has focused on N2O as a global warming issue, a similar one in the future may well need to be broadened to cover the role of this gas within a wider definition of global change, to embrace also its effect on the ozone layer.

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