Atmospheric dispersion of airborne pollen evidenced by near-surface and columnar measurements in Barcelona, Spain

Michaël Sicard, Rebeca Izquierdo, Oriol Jorba, Marta Alarcón, Jordina Belmonte, Adolfo Comerón, Concepción De Linares, José Maria Baldasano

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Hourly measurements of pollen near-surface concentration and lidar-derived profiles of volume and particle depolarization ratios during a 5-day pollination event observed in Barcelona, Spain, between 27 - 31 March, 2015, are presented. Maximum hourly pollen concentrations of 4700 and 1200 m-3 h-1 were found for Platanus and Pinus, respectively, which represented together more than 80 % of the total pollen. The pollen concentration was found positively correlated with temperature (correlation coefficient, r, of 0.95) and wind speed (r = 0.82) and negatively correlated with relative humidity (r = -0.18). The ground concentration shows a clear diurnal cycle although pollen activity is also detected during nighttime in three occasions and is clearly associated with periods of strong wind speeds. Everyday a clear diurnal cycle caused by the vertical transport of the airborne pollen was visible on the lidar-derived profiles of the volume depolarization ratio with maxima usually reached between 12 and 15 UT. On average the volume depolarization ratios in the pollen plume ranged between 0.08 and 0.22. Except in the cases of nocturnal pollen activity, the correlation coefficients between volume depolarization ratio and near-surface concentration are high (>0.68). The dispersion of the Platanus and Pinus in the atmosphere was simulated with the Nonhydrostatic Multiscale Meteorological Model on the B grid at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center with a newly developed Chemical Transport Model (NMMB/BSC-CTM). Model near-surface daily pollen concentrations were compared to our observations at two sites: in Barcelona and Bellaterra (12 km NE of Barcelona). Model hourly pollen concentrations were compared to our observations in Barcelona. Better results are obtained for Pinus than for Platanus. Guidelines are proposed to improve the dispersion of airborne pollen by atmospheric models.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemote Sensing of Clouds and the Atmosphere XXI
EditorsKlaus Schafer, Adolfo Comeron, James W. Jack, Richard H. Picard, Konradin Weber, Evgueni I. Kassianov
ISBN (Electronic)9781510604063
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


  • airborne pollen
  • columnar dispersion
  • lidar
  • local scale simulation
  • near-surface concentration


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