Dr. Markus Rex, head of the Alfred-Wegener-Institut’s Atmospheric Physics Section, said that Palau’s air is the cleanest in the world based on the data they collected through the StratoClim project in Palau in the last three years. (Photo by Rhealyn C. Pojas)

The Stratospheric and upper tropospheric processes for better Climate predictions (StratoClim), a consortium of 32 atmospheric research institutions from 11 European Countries, revealed that their observation of the atmospheric processes in Palau shows that the country has the cleanest air in the world.

StratoClim, having done Ozone measurements everywhere, found that Ozone concentration in Palau, especially in the months of August to November, is low, making it hard for them to do the said measurements.

Atmospheric Physics Head Markus Rex of the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, a German-run institute that is part of the StratoClim project, said that low Ozone concentration means that the air is extremely clean and air pollutants like Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxide, and Carbon Monoxide are very low.

Through the StratoClim project, the Atmospheric Observatory was built at the Palau Community College after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the school. Through the Atmospheric Observatory, scientific operations which are supported by the Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF) in Palau are conducted to observe atmospheric processes in the region.

“It seems that with our three years of measurements we have been able to solve the puzzle of processes here in the area during August to November,” Rex said.

Rex, who is also a professor at the University of Potsdam in Germany, however said that Palau is a little more polluted during the months of February to June due to more influence from more polluted areas in Asia. The air that descends from the stratosphere into the troposphere, according to Rex, may have also contributed to such phenomenon.

With their new instrument called the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), the group will be able to sort out which fraction of the pollutant comes from Asia and which comes the air that descends from the Stratosphere, Rex explained.

In the months when Palau is observed to have the cleanest air, it was found that atmospheric processes in Palau is locally concentrated, meaning composition of air is determined by local processes that could be accredited mostly to convection of trapped air in thunderstorms.

“We’ve never seen such clean air anywhere on the planet,” Rex said.

According to Rex, they directly measure ozone but with it, they can also tell the concentration of pollutants. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)