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Effects of climate change and seed dispersal on airborne ragweed pollen loads in Europe

Abstract : Common ragweed ($Ambrosia\ artemisiifolia$) is an invasive alien species in Europe producing pollen that causes severe allergic disease in susceptible individuals. Ragweed plants could further invade European land with climate and land-use changes. However, airborne pollen evolution depends not only on plant invasion, but also on pollen production, release and atmospheric dispersion changes. To predict the effect of climate and land-use changes on airborne pollen concentrations, we used two comprehensive modelling frameworks accounting for all these factors under high-end and moderate climate and land-use change scenarios. We estimate that by 2050 airborne ragweed pollen concentrations will be about 4 times higher than they are now, with a range of uncertainty from 2 to 12 largely depending on the seed dispersal rate assumptions. About a third of the airborne pollen increase is due to on-going seed dispersal, irrespective of climate change. The remaining two-thirds are related to climate and land-use changes that will extend ragweed habitat suitability in northern and eastern Europe and increase pollen production in established ragweed areas owing to increasing CO$_2$. Therefore, climate change and ragweed seed dispersal in current and future suitable areas will increase airborne pollen concentrations, which may consequently heighten the incidence and prevalence of ragweed allergy.
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Lynda Hamaoui-Laguel, Robert Vautard, Li Liu, Fabien Solmon, Nicolas N. Viovy, et al.. Effects of climate change and seed dispersal on airborne ragweed pollen loads in Europe. Nature Climate Change, 2015, 5 (8), pp.766-771. ⟨10.1038/NCLIMATE2652⟩. ⟨hal-01806139⟩



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