Articles | Volume 16, issue 11
Research article
06 Jun 2016
Research article |  | 06 Jun 2016

Near-surface and columnar measurements with a micro pulse lidar of atmospheric pollen in Barcelona, Spain

Michaël Sicard, Rebeca Izquierdo, Marta Alarcón, Jordina Belmonte, Adolfo Comerón, and José Maria Baldasano

Abstract. We present for the first time continuous hourly measurements of pollen near-surface concentration and lidar-derived profiles of particle backscatter coefficients and of volume and particle depolarization ratios during a 5-day pollination event observed in Barcelona, Spain, between 27 and 31 March 2015. Daily average concentrations ranged from 1082 to 2830 pollen m−3. Platanus and Pinus pollen types represented together more than 80 % of the total pollen. Maximum hourly pollen concentrations of 4700 and 1200 m−3 were found for Platanus and Pinus, respectively. Every day a clear diurnal cycle caused by the vertical transport of the airborne pollen was visible on the lidar-derived profiles with maxima usually reached between 12:00 and 15:00 UT. A method based on the lidar polarization capabilities was used to retrieve the contribution of the pollen to the total aerosol optical depth (AOD). On average the diurnal (09:00–17:00 UT) pollen AOD was 0.05, which represented 29 % of the total AOD. Maximum values of the pollen AOD and its contribution to the total AOD reached 0.12 and 78 %, respectively. The diurnal means of the volume and particle depolarization ratios in the pollen plume were 0.08 and 0.14, with hourly maxima of 0.18 and 0.33, respectively. The diurnal mean of the height of the pollen plume was found at 1.24 km with maxima varying in the range of 1.47–1.78 km. A correlation study is performed (1) between the depolarization ratios and the pollen near-surface concentration to evaluate the ability of the former parameter to monitor pollen release and (2) between the depolarization ratios as well as pollen AOD and surface downward solar fluxes, which cause the atmospheric turbulences responsible for the particle vertical motion, to examine the dependency of the depolarization ratios and the pollen AOD upon solar fluxes. For the volume depolarization ratio the first correlation study yields to correlation coefficients ranging 0.00–0.81 and the second to correlation coefficients ranging 0.49–0.86.

Short summary
For the first time the concentration of pollen grains was measured on an hourly basis during a 5-day pollination event in Barcelona, Spain, while at the same time the pollen dispersion in the atmosphere was measured also continuously by a lidar (laser radar) system. The intensity of the pollen dispersion revealed to be strongly correlated with the solar radiation reaching the Earth.
Final-revised paper