Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
Biogeosciences, 10, 541–554, 2013
Biogeosciences, 10, 541–554, 2013

Research article 29 Jan 2013

Research article | 29 Jan 2013

Identifying urban sources as cause of elevated grass pollen concentrations using GIS and remote sensing

C. A. Skjøth1,2, P. V. Ørby3, T. Becker2, C. Geels2, V. Schlünssen3, T. Sigsgaard3, J. H. Bønløkke3, J. Sommer4, P. Søgaard5, and O. Hertel2,6 C. A. Skjøth et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Science, Sölvegatan 12, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
  • 2Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, P.O. Box 358, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
  • 3Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 2, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
  • 4Asthma and Allergy Association Denmark, Universitetsparken 4, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
  • 5Department of Nature and Environment, Municipality of Aarhus, P.O. Box 79, Valdemarsgade 18, 8100 Aarhus, Denmark
  • 6Department for Environmental, Social and Spatial Change (ENSPAC), Roskilde University, P.O. Box 260, Universitetsvej 1, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark

Abstract. We examine here the hypothesis that during flowering, the grass pollen concentrations at a specific site reflect the distribution of grass pollen sources within a few kilometres of this site. We perform this analysis on data from a measurement campaign in the city of Aarhus (Denmark) using three pollen traps and by comparing these observations with a novel inventory of grass pollen sources. The source inventory is based on a new methodology developed for urban-scale grass pollen sources. The new methodology is believed to be generally applicable for the European area, as it relies on commonly available remote sensing data combined with management information for local grass areas. The inventory has identified a number of grass pollen source areas present within the city domain. The comparison of the measured pollen concentrations with the inventory shows that the atmospheric concentrations of grass pollen in the urban zone reflect the source areas identified in the inventory, and that the pollen sources that are found to affect the pollen levels are located near or within the city domain. The results also show that during days with peak levels of pollen concentrations there is no correlation between the three urban traps and an operational trap located just 60 km away. This finding suggests that during intense flowering, the grass pollen concentration mirrors the local source distribution and is thus a local-scale phenomenon. Model simulations aimed at assessing population exposure to pollen levels are therefore recommended to take into account both local sources and local atmospheric transport, and not to rely only on describing regional to long-range transport of pollen. The derived pollen source inventory can be entered into local-scale atmospheric transport models in combination with other components that simulate pollen release in order to calculate urban-scale variations in the grass pollen load. The gridded inventory with a resolution of 14 m is therefore made available as supplementary material to this paper, and the verifying grass pollen observations are additionally available in tabular form.

Final-revised paper