Effects of Pollen on Hydrometeors and Precipitation in a Convective System Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractAnemophilous (winddriven) pollen is one type of primary biological aerosol particle, which can rupture under high humidity conditions and form smaller subpollen particles (SPPs). Both pollen and SPPs can reach the upper troposphere under convective conditions, acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nucleating particles (INPs), thus influencing cloud formation and precipitation. However, the impacts of these biological aerosols on cold cloud formation and local climate remain unclear as there are large uncertainties on their emission flux and ice nucleating abilities. Here, we incorporate pollen emission and rupture processes in the Weather Research and Forecasting Model with Chemistry (WRFChem) simulations and update the Morrison microphysics scheme within WRFChem using aerosolaware INP parameterizations to account for pollen in addition to other anthropogenic and biogenic aerosol. INP parameterizations for pollen and SPP are derived from laboratory experiments. When including pollen rupture rates as observed in a series of chamber studies, SPP concentrations increase, leading to an increase of cloud ice and water by up to 50% and potentially extending the duration of the convective system. Among all simulated hydrometeors, graupel and raindrops exhibit the largest enhancements from the inclusion of SPPs, with intensifying precipitation at the backside of the convective system and a greater spatial extent. Sensitivity simulations indicate that SPPs have a greater effect on cloud microphysical processes than whole pollen grains, and further observational evidence is needed to constrain these processes.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., Subba, T., Matthews, B. H., Pettersen, C., Brooks, S. D., & Steiner, A. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Yingxiao||Subba, Tamanna||Matthews, Brianna H||Pettersen, Claire||Brooks, Sarah D||Steiner, Allison L

publication date

  • March 2024