Drivers of the fungal spore bioaerosol budget: observational analysis and global modeling

Janssen, Ruud H. H.; Heald, Colette L.; Steiner, Allison L.; Perring, Anne E.; Huffman, J. Alex; Robinson, Ellis S.; Twohy, Cynthia H.; Ziemba, Luke D.

Bioaerosols are produced by biological processes and directly emitted into the atmosphere, where they contribute to ice nucleation and the formation of precipitation. Previous studies have suggested that fungal spores constitute a substantial portion of the atmospheric bioaerosol budget. However, our understanding of what controls the emission and burden of fungal spores on the global scale is limited. Here, we use a previously unexplored source of fungal spore count data from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) to gain insight into the drivers of their emissions. First, we derive emissions from observed concentrations at 66 stations by applying the boundary layer equilibrium assumption. We estimate an annual mean emission of 62 inline-formula± 31 minline-formula−2 sinline-formula−1 across the USA. Based on these pseudo-observed emissions, we derive two models for fungal spore emissions at seasonal scales: a statistical model, which links fungal spore emissions to meteorological variables that show similar seasonal cycles (2 m specific humidity, leaf area index and friction velocity), and a population model, which describes the growth of fungi and the emission of their spores as a biological process that is driven by temperature and biomass density. Both models show better skill at reproducing the seasonal cycle in fungal spore emissions at the AAAAI stations than the model previously developed by Heald and Spracklen (2009) (referred to as HS09). We implement all three emissions models in the chemical transport model GEOS-Chem to evaluate global emissions and burden of fungal spore bioaerosol. We estimate annual global emissions of 3.7 and 3.4 Tg yrinline-formula−1 for the statistical model and the population model, respectively, which is about an order of magnitude lower than the HS09 model. The global burden of the statistical and the population model is similarly an order of magnitude lower than that of the HS09 model. A comparison with independent datasets shows that the new models reproduce the seasonal cycle of fluorescent biological aerosol particle (FBAP) concentrations at two locations in Europe somewhat better than the HS09 model, although a quantitative comparison is hindered by the ambiguity in interpreting measurements of fluorescent particles. Observed vertical profiles of FBAP show that the convective transport of spores over source regions is captured well by GEOS-Chem, irrespective of which emission scheme is used. However, over the North Atlantic, far from significant spore sources, the model does not reproduce the vertical profiles. This points to the need for further exploration of the transport, cloud processing and wet removal of spores. In addition, more long-term observational datasets are needed topage4382 assess whether drivers of seasonal fungal spore emissions are similar across continents and biomes.

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Janssen, Ruud H. H. / Heald, Colette L. / Steiner, Allison L. / et al: Drivers of the fungal spore bioaerosol budget: observational analysis and global modeling. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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