Sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6) emissions in East Asia determined by inverse modeling
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6) has a global warming potential of around 22 800 over a 100-year time horizon and is one of the greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol. Around the year 2000 there was a reversal in the global SF 6 emission trend, from a decreasing to an increasing trend, which was likely caused by increasing emissions in countries that are not obligated to report their annual emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In this study, SF 6 emissions during the period 2006–2012 for all East Asian countries – including Mongolia, China, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea and Japan – were determined by using inverse modeling and in situ atmospheric measurements. We found that the most important sources of uncertainty associated with these inversions are related to the choice of a priori emissions and their assumed uncertainty, the station network as well as the meteorological input data. Much lower uncertainties are due to seasonal variability in the emissions, inversion geometry and resolution, and the measurement calibration scale. Based on the results of these sensitivity tests, we estimate that the total SF 6 emission in East Asia increased rapidly from 2404 ± 325 Mg yr −1 in 2006 to 3787 ± 512 Mg yr −1 in 2009 and stabilized thereafter. China contributed 60–72% to the total East Asian emission for the different years, followed by South Korea (8–16%), Japan (5–16%) and Taiwan (4–7%), while the contributions from North Korea and Mongolia together were less than 3% of the total. The per capita SF 6 emissions are highest in South Korea and Taiwan, while the per capita emissions for China, North Korea and Japan are close to global average. During the period 2006–2012, emissions from China and from South Korea increased, while emissions from Taiwan and Japan decreased overall.