Raise your hand if you suffer from seasonal allergies… 🙋 Many of you are probably feeling that these are starting to show up this week. Pollen levels – especially elm, juniper and maple – will be moderate tomorrow, high on Friday and very high on Saturday.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America strongly suggests that anthropological climate change (human-caused climate change) is making allergy season worse and longer. The study observed pollen trends from 1990 to 2018 using 60 stations in North America operated by the National Allergy Bureau. Although the study looked at both the spring and fall pollen seasons, most of the important data comes from the spring season. Tree pollen showed the greatest increases both in spring and annually. One of the biggest and clearest points is the lengthening and early start of the pollen season in the United States. This study shows that the pollen season now starts 20 days earlier than in the 1980s and ends only 8 days earlier. This not only means that the pollen season starts earlier, but also lasts longer. After performing a statistical analysis of all the data they collected, the researchers show that the seasonal change is about 50% related to climate change. It would be impossible to prove 100%, so 50% is actually a pretty high indicator that climate change is significantly related to the change in pollen season. This study also shows that pollen concentrations increased by 21%. This was the first part of this research; the second part was trying to figure out if it was caused by climate change. “Our results indicate that human-caused climate change has already worsened North American pollen seasons, and climate-related pollen trends are likely to further worsen respiratory health impacts in decades to come.”
The second part of this study is a little more difficult to prove. There was only about an 8% link between climate change and the change in pollen concentration. It’s actually very difficult to point to climate change as the definitive cause of everything we’re seeing right now, because there are so many factors influencing our environment. The author of this study, however, explained why pollen trends are a little easier to link to climate change. He said “high temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations have been shown to increase pollen production.” That’s what they mean when they talk about climate change here – high temperature (warmer air) and high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In other studies referenced by this author, this link between warmer air and more CO2 has already been shown to increase pollen concentrations. In this study, however, the researchers went a step further and said: “Although an impact of CO2 concentrations can be detected, consistent with experimental greenhouse studies, temperature appears to be a much stronger driver of climate change. variability of pollen in space and time on a continental scale. Balance.” There is still a lot of work to be done in the study of pollen, especially how increased pollen concentrations and a longer season will impact us. We need to know more about the health implications and what this means for the environment around us. A related new study from the University of Michigan was recently published in the journal Nature Communications. You can read more about it below:
Climate change has already lengthened allergy season and increased pollen counts, but you’re not…