# How does dichlordifluormethan get into the stratosphere?

I was currently wondering why FCKWs are able to destroy the ozone layer. It looks for me like these gases have a high molecular weight in comparison to $\ce{N2}$ or $\ce{O2}$. How can these gasses come up to the outer layer of our atmosphere? In detail, how long (averaged) the diffusion of such an particle would take to get to such a altitude?

I mean, they are basically several times heavier than all the other components of our atmosphere and it shouldn't be energetically very stable for them to float on the outer layers to space on the top of lighter particles.

This is one of the more frequently asked questions about ozone depletion. I will try to give a short summary.

First of all, it is important to know that Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are extremely stable at room temperature and pressure. It is therefore only natural, that in the lower atmosphere these gases are enriched, therefore they have plenty of time getting in higher altitudes via diffusion.

The earths atmosphere is in constant motion, you can experience that on a macroscopic level via different winds. The sun heats up the earth's surface, causing all sorts of liquids to be evaporated. While evaporating water, these small molecules may form little conglomerates, taking other molecules up to higher heights. This will happen to dust, so it will also happen to CFCs. There will be local areas (or volumes, layers) of the air in different heights of the atmosphere that have different densities, concentrations and composition. As a result they will also have different air pressures. You can experience this on a plane at higher altitudes. Assuming that all reactions tend to react towards equilibrium, there will be forces acting between these areas. In a consequence there will be also upward forces acting on the CFC containing gas mixture. Slowly these molecules will move upwards to the stratosphere.

As you can see, this process is heavily dependent on many different factors and may well require years. I think it is actually very hard to find any accurate numbers for this process. My research on the subject turned up nothing about that. In most of the cases it was just stated, that these gasses are there.