According to a new study by scientists at Colorado State University, the cleanest air on Earth is closer to any area where humans have settled. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals that the Southern Ocean around Antarctica is home to the cleanest air on Earth. Thanks to some of the weirdness of global climate and weather patterns, the clouds over the Southern Ocean are very pure.
Human activity affects almost every corner of the earth. For example, garbage can be found in the most remote parts of the ocean, and human-used plastic products are washed up on remote beaches where there is no one to live near them. When researchers studying the air over the Southern Ocean, they found that there were no traces of human activity in the clouds there. It has no trace of used fossil fuels, fertilizers or human waste, and has the cleanest air on Earth.
The scientists took samples from close proximity to the surface of the ocean. They studied the composition of microbes found in the air, which could provide clues as to where the microbes in the air were. They found that these microbes are likely to originate in the ocean. The distant Southern Ocean is far enough away from most of human civilization to escape most of the pollution caused by human activity.
“Aerosols that control the properties of the southern ice clouds are closely related to the processes of marine life, and Antarctica appears to be isolated from the southern diffusion and nutrient deposits of the southern continent’s microbes,” thomas Hill, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Overall, this suggests that the Southern Ocean is one of the few places on Earth least affected by human activity. “