Is there potential to apply our knowledge that plant phenolic compounds respond to UV-B radiation to infer past changes in global solar UV-B irradiance? This is the possibility that we explore in a Perspective paper just out in Photobiological & Photochemical Sciences.
Our collaborators from the University of Bergen in Norway and University of Innsbruck intend to test the potential for us to use fossilised pollen grains to do just that. By testing whether the UV-screening phenolics in the pollen of trees growing today tracks their exposure to UV-B radiation they will try to establish a mechanistic link that will allow past UV irradiances to be revealed in cores of fossilised pollen.
In this perspective piece we formulate a model for how this approach might be put into practice.