Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-235
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-235

  20 May 2021

20 May 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Measurement report: Characterization of the vertical distribution of airborne Pinus pollen in the atmosphere with lidar-derived profiles: a modelling case study in the region of Barcelona, NE Spain

Michaël Sicard1,2, Oriol Jorba3, Jiang Ji Ho4, Rebeca Izquierdo4,5,6, Concepción De Linares5,7, Marta Alarcón4, Adolfo Comerón1, and Jordina Belmonte5,6 Michaël Sicard et al.
  • 1CommSensLab, Dept. of Signal Theory and Communications, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2Ciències i Tecnologies de l'Espai - Centre de Recerca de l'Aeronàutica i de l'Espai / Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya (CTE-CRAE / IEEC), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034, Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Barcelona Supercomputing Center, 08034, Barcelona, Spain
  • 4Departament de Física, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08019, Barcelona, Spain
  • 5Departament de Biologia Animal, Biologia Vegetal i Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain
  • 6Institut de Ciencia i Tecnología Ambientals (ICTA), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193, Bellaterra, Spain
  • 7Department of Botany, University of Granada, 18071, Granada, Spain

Abstract. This paper investigates the mechanisms involved in the dispersion, structure and mixing in the vertical column of atmospheric pollen. The methodology used employs observations of pollen concentration obtained from Hirst samplers (we will refer to as surface pollen) and vertical distribution (polarization-sensitive lidar) as well as nested numerical simulations with an atmospheric transport model and a simplified pollen module developed especially for this study. The study focuses on the predominant pollen type, Pinus, of the intense pollination event which occurred in the region of Barcelona, Catalonia, NE Spain, during 27–31 March, 2015. First, conversion formulas are expressed to convert lidar-derived total backscatter coefficient and model-derived mass concentration into pollen grains concentration, the magnitude measured at the surface by means of aerobiological methods, and for the first time ever, a relationship between optical and mass properties of atmospheric pollen, through the estimation of the so-called specific extinction cross-section, is quantified in ambient conditions. Second, the model horizontal representativeness is assessed through comparison between nested pollen simulations at 9, 3 and 1 km horizontal resolution and observed meteorological and aerobiological variables at seven sites around Catalonia. Finally, hourly observations of surface and column concentration in Barcelona are analysed with the different numerical simulations at increasing horizontal resolution and varying sedimentation/deposition parameters. We find that the 9 or 3 km simulations are less sensitive to the meteorology errors hence they should be preferred for specific forecasting applications. The largest discrepancies between measured surface (Hirst) and column (lidar) concentrations occur during nighttime: only residual pollen is detected in the column whereas it is present at the surface. The main reason is related to the lidar characteristics which has a lowest useful range bin at ~225 m, above the usually very thin nocturnal stable boundary layer. At the hour of the day of maximum insolation, the pollen layer does not extend up to the top of the planetary boundary layer according to the observations (lidar), probably because of gravity effects; however, the model simulates the pollen plume up to the top of the planetary boundary layer, resulting in an overestimation of the pollen load. Besides the large size and weight of Pinus grains, sedimentation/deposition processes have only a limited impact on the model vertical concentration in contrast to the emission processes. For further modelling research, emphasis is put on the accurate knowledge of plant/tree spatial distribution, density and type, as well as on the establishment of reliable phenology functions.

Michaël Sicard et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of “Measurement report: Characterization of the vertical distribution of airborne Pinus pollen in the atmosphere with lidar-derived profiles: a modelling case study in the region of Barcelona, NE Spain” by Sicard et al.', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Jun 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-235', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Aug 2021

Michaël Sicard et al.

Michaël Sicard et al.

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Short summary
This paper investigates the mechanisms involved in the dispersion, structure and mixing in the vertical column of atmospheric pollen. It uses observations of pollen concentration obtained at the ground and its stratification in the atmosphere measured by a lidar (laser radar) as well as an atmospheric transport model and a simplified pollen module developed especially for this study. The largest pollen concentration difference between the ground and the layers above is observed during nighttime.
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