New in 2023: Continental U.S. emissions for SF6 are located on the US Potent GHG Tracker website.

Since 1995 two separate sampling programs in The Halocarbons and other Atmospheric Trace Species (HATS) group and one flask program in the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gasses group (CCGG) have measured sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). The HATS programs include a flask system and an in situ program. Flask measurements started in 1995 with eight stations and continue sampling at 15 locations (13 background air locations). The HATS group developed a four channel gas chromatograph in 1998 (called CATS) to upgrade and expand the in situ measurement program. The CATS gas chromatographs are currently deployed at five field sites and make hourly measurements.

A combined dataset has been developed to incorporate all of the HATS monthly mean measurements made by each program; and SF6 measurements from the CCGG network at the same HATS locations. The combined dataset is calculated by taking weighted averages of co-located measurements from background NOAA/GML air measurement programs (listed below). All programs are on the same NOAA scale (WMO X2014 scale for SF6), and every attempt is made to correct known biases between measurement programs; however, there may be small differences that are not understood and characterized. When comparing measurements from station to station, be aware that not all locations are composed of the same measurement programs. The hemispheric and global means in the combined dataset are our best measure of long-term trends and are used for international and national assessments for background air measurements.

SF6 measurement programs Start Finish
HATS current flask instrument (OTTO) 1995


GGGRN current flask instrument (MAGIC) 2001


HATS in situ (CATS program) 1998 Current

Current GML programs (green rectangles) and discontinued programs (yellow rectangles) are used in the combined dataset.

SF6 monthly means figure

The figure above shows the different measurement programs' calculated global means and illustrates the overlap amongst programs. Measured monthly means from the different programs are statistically combined to create a long-term NOAA/GML dataset (black line). The combined data is calculated by first interpolating missing data at sampling location for each measurement program. A weighted average is subsequently calculated where there are co-located measurements from two or more programs. The gap filled station measurement is then smoothed with the Savitzky-Golay algorithm.

SF6 zonal means

Zonal means are calculated for four northern (solid lines) and three southern (dashed lines) bins.

SF6 global monthly means

The global SF6 mean is plotted with 1-σ error bars (gray error bars). Improvements in measurement techniques and technology, as well as more sampling locations have reduced the global mean uncertainty since the mid 1990s. The red line is a linear fit to the global mean data demonstrating a fairly constant annual growth rate of 0.24 ppt per year. More recently the SF6 growth rate has been increasing.

SF6 global history

Global history of sulfur hexafluoride as a function of latitude (y-axis) and time (x-axis).

The Combined GML SF6 Data file uses monthly data from the following programs:


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