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Climate related changes in pollen load

Impeding climate change and its consequences have motivated governments around the world to support adaptation and mitigation measures in hopes of minimizing risks within their own communities. Introducing new political instruments can often be difficult however, unless the public is willing to offer its full support.

In combining scientific and environmental education goals, this joint project thus seeks to create hands-on experiences for select target groups in Bavaria (e.g. people seeking outdoor recreation opportunities, people affected by pollen allergies, nature-loving citizens, students). Under the motto "Spreading Knowledge - Promoting Perception - Communicating Complexity", a citizen science platform allows participants to submit observations and visualize the effects of climate change in their own communities, all while accessing a variety of learning materials and educational tools through the website and App.

BAYSICS is composed of ten sub-projects, one of them is based at KU: "Climate related changes in pollen load."

This subproject considers the citizen science approach to evaluate climate-induced variations in pollen load. Amongst others, it aims to evaluate the appropriateness of urban greenspaces and city districts to reduce pollen exposure.

The results of allergenicity evaluation in cities will help to make smart decisions on future establishment or redesign of green spaces. Promoting and upholding green spaces in cities is important; humans largely benefit from ecosystem services such as recreation, climate regulation and improved air quality. Any disservice provided by pollen emission should therefore be reduced.

In order to adapt to climate change, detailed knowledge about the spatial variability of phenology, pollen season and pollen intensity is required.

Since cities are known for their urban heat island effect, dry conditions and air pollution, investigations along urbanisation gradients (space-for-time approach) can be used to assess the influence of temperature on pollen production. As temperature is expected to increase due to climate change, this approach can be used as a proxy to predict future effects of climate on allergenic plants.

This subproject thus aims to use the citizen science approach to evaluate climate-induced variations in pollen production, pollen exposure, diurnal emission patterns of allergenic plants as well as individual symptoms. In addition to the installation of pollen traps and meteorological stations in a large city (Ingolstadt), the focus of this subproject is to develop an App that can be used by citizens to report on allergy symptoms or allergenic plant observations from the comfort of their own homes.


 

Associated people

Prof. Dr. Susanne Jochner-Oette

Johanna Jetschni, M.Sc.

 

Project duration

2018 - 2023