14 November 2019
NOAA scientists in the ESRL Global Monitoring and Chemical Sciences Divisions and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder receive a 2019 Colorado Governor's Award for High-Impact Research. The award for Manifestation Mastery, for a project that resulted in widespread public awareness, utilization and impact on a given challenge or issue, is received for "discovering a major violation of the most successful international treaty, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer." This data sleuthing effort that revealed outlaw emissions of CFC-11 – violations of Montreal Protocol emissions standards – resulted in China making a national-level plan to comply with the Protocol.
In 2018 researchers discovered an unexpected global increase in emissions of CFC-11, one of the main chemicals responsible for the Antarctic ozone hole, beginning in 2013, with contributions apparently from eastern Asia. Their research implied outlaw production of the chemical. A follow-up paper published in Nature in 2019, by 32 authors from NOAA, CIRES, NASA, and research groups from six countries, reaffirmed the findings of the original study and presented strong evidence that China was violating the Montreal Protocol.
This research was honored at the November 12 awards ceremony hosted by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Principal Investigators Stephen A. Montzka (GMD), Geoff S. Dutton (GMD / CIRES), and Eric Ray (CSD / CIRES) received the award. NOAA scientists Brad D. Hall (GMD), James W. Elkins (GMD), Robert W. Portmann (CSD), John S. Daniel (CSD), Pengfei Yu (CSD / CIRES), Debra Modeel (GMD / CIRES), Carolina Siso (GMD / CIRES), David Nance (GMD / CIRES), Leu Hu (GMD /CIRES), Fred Moore (GMD / CIRES), and Ben R. Miller (GMD / CIRES) also deserve congratulations for their work on this profound discovery.
CO-LABS, a non-profit organization that supports Colorado's federally funded research centers, honors Colorado's top scientists and engineers for projects having a significant impact on society.