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Source areas and long-range transport of pollen from continental land to Tenerife (Canary Islands).

Research paper by Rebeca R Izquierdo, Jordina J Belmonte, Anna A Avila, Marta M Alarcón, Emilio E Cuevas, Silvia S Alonso-Pérez

Indexed on: 25 Mar '10Published on: 25 Mar '10Published in: International Journal of Biometeorology



Abstract

The Canary Islands, due to their geographical position, constitute an adequate site for the study of long-range pollen transport from the surrounding land masses. In this study, we analyzed airborne pollen counts at two sites: Santa Cruz de Tenerife (SCO), at sea level corresponding to the marine boundary layer (MBL), and Izaña at 2,367 m.a.s.l. corresponding to the free troposphere (FT), for the years 2006 and 2007. We used three approaches to describe pollen transport: (1) a classification of provenances with an ANOVA test to describe pollen count differences between sectors; (2) a study of special events of high pollen concentrations, taking into consideration the corresponding meteorological synoptic pattern responsible for transport and back trajectories; and (3) a source-receptor model applied to a selection of the pollen taxa to show pollen source areas. Our results indicate several extra-regional pollen transport episodes to Tenerife. The main provenances were: (1) the Mediterranean region, especially the southern Iberian Peninsula and Morocco, through the trade winds in the MBL. These episodes were characterized by the presence of pollen from trees (Casuarina, Olea, Quercus perennial and deciduous types) mixed with pollen from herbs (Artemisia, Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae and Poaceae wild type). (2) The Saharan sector, through transport at the MBL level carrying pollen principally from herbs (Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae, Cyperaceae and Poaceae wild type) and, in one case, Casuarina pollen, uplifted to the free troposphere. And (3) the Sahel, characterized by low pollen concentrations of Arecaceae, Chenopodiaceae-Amaranthaceae, Cyperaceae and Poaceae wild type in sporadic episodes. This research shows that sporadic events of long-range pollen transport need to be taken into consideration in Tenerife as possible responsible agents in respiratory allergy episodes. In particular, it is estimated that 89-97% of annual counts of the highly allergenous Olea originates from extra-regional sources in southern Iberia and northern Africa.