Pollen forecasts in complex topography: two case studies from the Alps using the numerical pollen forecast model COSMO-ART

Andreas Pauling, Bernard Clot, Annette Menzel, Stephan Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Pollen concentrations on Alpine mountain tops are poorly known due to few observations and few modeling studies. We present two case studies from the Alps that provide insights into the spatial and temporal distribution of birch pollen. The numerical pollen dispersion model COSMO-ART (COnsortium for Small-scale MOdelling-Aerosols and Reactive Trace gases) was used to simulate the birch pollen transport during the 2017 pollen season. The model configuration included 1.1-km horizontal grid spacing and 80 vertical levels. The simulations were compared with daily pollen concentrations from two mountain tops in the Alps (Weissfluhjoch near Davos, Switzerland, at 2692 m and Schneefernerhaus, Germany, at 2650 m a.s.l.). In addition, the Swiss pollen stations at Davos (1587 m a.s.l.) and Buchs (446 m a.s.l.) were used. COSMO-ART simulations agreed well with the observations at Davos and Weissfluhjoch. At the Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus, the pollen concentrations were generally overestimated. We analyzed the pollen transport episode of 9 April 2017 at Weissfluhjoch in more detail using vertical cross sections of the COSMO-ART simulations. The results suggest that pollen can be lifted up to 3000 m in the morning hours and are subsequently transported by large-scale winds leading to higher birch pollen concentrations at Weissfluhjoch than at Davos. This suggests that the actual situation regarding sources, topography and wind determines the pollen distribution and not only altitude. Still, pollen levels at Weissfluhjoch are more than one order of magnitude lower than typical pollen levels at lowland Swiss stations such as Buchs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Birch pollen
  • Complex topography
  • High-resolution pollen forecasts
  • Pollen dispersion models
  • Pollen transport


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