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Scientists have found that rain and clouds play an important role in making the air over the Southern Ocean the cleanest on the planet.

Although this Antarctic ocean has less human activity, it is polluted by factors such as salt from the sea, dust from the wind or particles from tiny plant-like organisms called phytoplankton.

CLOUDS AND RAIN PURIFY THE AIR

But clouds and rain play an important role in clearing the atmosphere above the Antarctic ocean, researchers said.

Scientists have developed a computer program using data from a new generation of satellites to detect different cloud patterns over the ocean.

HONEYCOMB-SHAPED CLOUD

In particular, the researchers studied honeycomb-shaped cloud patterns, which are known to play an important role in climate improvement. The honeycomb cells in these clouds are either "open" or "closed" depending on the amount of precipitation the area they cover receives. The scientists found that days with the cleanest air were associated with clouds with open honeycombs. These clouds are thought to be able to "wash" dirt particles out of the air, creating intense downpours.

PRODUCES 6 TIMES MORE RAIN

Open clouds retain more moisture and produce more rain than fluffy white closed clouds. "We found that open honeycomb clouds produce 6 times more rain than closed ones," the scientists wrote in their research paper.