Future Climate: Future Pollen and Spores

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences


Globally, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are rising because of anthropogenic activity. They will continue to rise in the coming century. Higher CO2 will affect the growth and other characteristics of plants and fungi. This Ph.D. investigates the effect of elevated CO2 upon primary biological aerosol (bioaerosol) production, and in particular pollen and fungal spores that are characteristic of UK woodlands, which comprise 13% of the total land area in the UK.
Increased bioaerosol production has profound and potentially far reaching implications since bioaerosols are societally and environmentally important. Bioaerosols transport the genetic material of plants and fungi between different geographical locations enabling colonisation of new habitats. Allergenic bioaerosols cause severe health issues including asthma, which afflict approximately 20% of the UK population. Bioaerosols are important links between the atmosphere and biosphere. By acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nuclei (IN) that affect the radiative forcing of the climate.

This project utilises the multi-million pound Birmingham Institute for Forestry Research (BIFoR) Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) experiment to measure the changing production of pollen and spores under enriched CO2 in a typical UK woodland. The experiment exposes large plots of woodland to enriched CO2 whilst minimizing other changes to the natural conditions. The effect of enriched CO2 can therefore be isolated. This FACE experiment is one of only two worldwide and the only one investigating UK representative woodlands. The proposed project will be the first FACE experiment, worldwide, to measure airborne pollen and spores.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007350/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2609379 Studentship NE/S007350/1 29/09/2019 29/03/2023 Sophie Anna Mills