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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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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01806139
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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, Nature Publishing Group, 2015, 5 (8), pp.766-771. ⟨10.1038/NCLIMATE2652⟩. ⟨hal-01806139⟩

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