If you’re looking for a breath of (really) fresh air, the best place to find it is in a region of the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, according to researchers. If we want to keep that air clean, though, it’s probably best we leave it alone, as the lack of particles caused by human activity is what makes it so pure, the scientists say in a study published Monday.
A group of climate scientists from Colorado State University wanted to see how far particles created by human activity and industry can reach, so they sailed from Tasmania to the Southern Ocean and measured the particles in the atmosphere at different points.
They measured from the boundary layer, which is a section of the lower atmosphere that touches the ocean’s surface and extends as high as 1.2 miles into the atmosphere. Scientists found that boundary layer air that feeds the lower clouds over the ocean was clean and free of particles, or aerosols, linked to human pollution or other activity.
According to the researchers, it’s hard to pinpoint places on Earth that are untouched by humans, adding that the air just above the Southern Ocean is perhaps least affected by people and dust from continents.