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New Technology is Allowing Experts to Better Predict Pollen Levels and Their Effect, Scientist Says

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A University of Worcester scientist says rapidly developing technology is revolutionising our understanding of the biology of the air and helping experts better and more quickly predict its effect on health and agriculture.

Professor Carsten Ambelas Skjøth, who works within the University’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU), believes improvements in technology are not only transforming the way we see aerobiology on a global scale, but also how we perceive its impact on the environment.

In his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, the Professor in Atmospheric Sciences will explore how further improvements to detection and forecasting of airborne pollen, spores and plant diseases will benefit agriculture, human health and ecosystems.

Professor Skjøth said: “These technological advances in both pollen detection and forecasting are already being used in research and have huge potential.

“The technology is allowing us to detect specific things that could not be detected before under a microscope.

“But it is also delivering the information a lot quicker.

“Although all the technology has been delivered it needs to be accurate enough to be used in everyday forecasting.

“But these new detection methods should allow us to deliver readings in real time, which can at present take at least half a day, and this has a huge impact on those affected.”

But he will also be highlighting major knowledge gaps that still remain in this field.

The lecture, entitled How the Internet of things will revolutionize forecasts of airborne pollen, spores and plant diseases, improving agriculture and human health, is at the University of Worcester’s Riverside Building, in Hylton Road, on Wednesday, May 24, at 5.30pm.

Professor Skjøth’s research focuses around aeroallergens and air quality. He studies the exchange between atmosphere and vegetation and how meteorology affects this exchange and later the atmospheric concentrations both aeroallergens and air pollutants. In the lecture he will discuss pollens, pathogens and chemical air pollutants.

Professor Skjøth’s work is internationally recognised. He has been involved in policy-making through the Danish Air Quality Monitoring Programme and has advised the government in relation to pollen, climate change and invasive species. Professor Skjøth has published extensively in relation to chemical and biological air quality. He recently acted as scientific coordinator and vice-chair of a major, pan-European scientific network set up to develop strategies to monitor and manage the spread of ragweed - one of the most prominent invasive alien species in Europe.

After studying at Copenhagen University in Denmark, Professor Skjøth worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the universities in Aarhus, Denmark and Lund, Sweden. He moved to Worcester in 2013.

At Worcester, Professor Skjøth leads an active research group working on atmospheric science and airborne pollen and spores, which collaborates with a number of other UK universities and European partners.

If you would like to attend the lecture email press@worc.ac.uk.