In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists have identified the region with the cleanest air on Earth and it’s not much of a surprise – the Southern Ocean area encircling Antarctica.
It was unlikely that any heavily inhabited area would take this top spot, with the Southern Ocean region seeing very little human activity.
According to Phys.org, the research team studied the air directly over the area and identified what was in the air and where it came from. Using DNA sequencing, source tracking and wind back trajectories, the team determined the microbes’ origins were marine, sourced from the ocean.
“We were able to use the bacteria in the air over the Southern Ocean as a diagnostic tool to infer key properties of the lower atmosphere,” said research scientist Thomas Hill, the co- author on the study.
“For example, that the aerosols controlling the properties of SO clouds are strongly linked to ocean biological processes, and that Antarctica appears to be isolated from southward dispersal of microorganisms and nutrient deposition from southern continents. Overall, it suggests that the SO is one of very few places on Earth that has been minimally affected by anthropogenic activities,” he added.
In addition, the study also concluded that this clean air meant that aerosols from land masses and human activities far away were not travelling into the air and polluting the southern region.
Image: Colorado State University